11/2015 - News release
New powers for Scotland's appeal court come into force
22 September 2015
Legal appeals in civil cases from Scotland decided from today (22 September) will now need permission from judges before they reach the UK's highest court, following changes made in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.
The provisions mean that a party wishing to overturn decisions of the Inner House of the Court of Session, Scotland's upper appeal court, made after 22 September 2015 must now ask that Court for permission before seeking to bring a further appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
If the Inner House refuses permission, a party can then ask the Supreme Court directly for permission to appeal. Such permission will normally only be given if the appeal raises a point of general public importance, and in deciding whether it does, the Supreme Court will benefit from the Inner House's view on whether an appeal should be given permission to proceed.
Previously, appellants from Scotland had an automatic right of appeal in civil matters, provided that two advocates certified an appeal as reasonable.
In effect, the changes - passed by the Scottish Parliament in October 2014 - mean that appeals from Scotland to the Supreme Court will now be subject to the same rules as appeals from other parts of the UK.
In the financial year 2014/15, the Supreme Court received ten appeals or references from Scotland 'as of right', and received five applications for permission to appeal where the appellant needed to seek such permission (typically in relation to 'devolution issues'). In 2013/14, the figures were 13 appeals as of right, and three applications for permission to appeal.
The changes do not alter the position regarding appeals in criminal matters: the High Court of Justiciary remains the final court of appeal for such matters, except in limited circumstances where the appeal raised questions of compatibility with European law or the European Convention on Human Rights. Even in these cases, once it has settled the point of law, the Supreme Court must remit the matter to the High Court of Justiciary for the case to be concluded.
Similarly, the reforms do not affect civil devolution issue appeals, the procedures for which are set out in the Scotland Act 2012.
Notes to editors
A revised guide to the Supreme Court's jurisdiction in Scottish cases can be found at: https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/jurisdiction-of-the-supreme-court-in-scottish-appeals.pdf
The full text of the relevant section of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2014/18/part/5/crossheading/appeals-to-the-supreme-court/enacted
Ben Wilson - Head of Communications
020 7960 1887
Cheryl Walmsley - Communications & Outreach Manager
020 7960 1886