HC Deb 21 November 1906 vol 165 cc828-9
MR. WATT (Glasgow, College)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to the consensus of opinion in Scotland that the expenses of a Court of Session action are too high and often out of proportion to the sum at issue; whether he is aware that this view is shared even by members of the Bar; whether, in these circumstances, he will introduce reforms which will have the effect of cheapening litigation; and whether he will initiate the system of allowing provincial solicitors to brief counsel for Court of Session cases without the intervention and expense of Edinburgh solicitors.


While I have received no representations on the general question of Court of Session costs to which my hon. friend refers, I think it to be accurate at least to say that there is a consensus of opinion that in cases raised under the Employers' Liability Act at the instance of workmen and relatives of workmen in respect of injuries received in the course of employment, the expenses of litigation in Scotland are in many cases out of all reasonable proportion to the sums at stake. This arises from the existing practice of removing such cases from the Sheriff Court to be tried in the Court of Session. His Majesty's Government have attempted to deal with this evil by provisions in the Workmen's Compensation Bill now before the House, which will, it is hoped, have the effect of keeping such cases for final determination in the Sheriff Court, and so assimilating the Scottish to the less costly English procedure. The last part of my hon. friend's Question is founded on a misapprehension. All solicitors have the right to practice in the Supreme Courts on paying the appropriate stamp and licence duties and otherwise complying with the statutory requisites such as are contained in the Acts 36 and 37 Vic. Cap. 63.