Making a personal injury claim in Scotland
How is personal injury law different in Scotland? Will claimants get more compensation claiming under Scots Law?
In most cases, a person who has sustained injury as the result of an accident can only bring a personal injury claim for compensation in the country in which the accident occurred. The claim will then be dealt with according to that country's laws and procedures.
This principle holds true for accidents which occurred in a particular part of the United Kingdom. So, for example, someone injured in an accident in Scotland usually has to claim compensation according to Scots Law.
Scots Law and English Law
The Treaty of Union of 1707 guaranteed the independence of the Scottish legal system. The result of this is that Scots law and procedure differs in a number of ways from English law.
Although some of these differences disappeared with the passage of time, the law-making powers of the Scottish Parliament make it likely that the number of differences will increase as time passes.
An example of this is that Scotland has had a lower legal alcohol limit for driving than the rest of the UK since 2014.
In general, the same laws apply to both Scotland and England insofar as accident claims are concerned. However, there are differences between the two legal systems that can affect a person's right to claim compensation.
For example, compensation can be claimed in Scotland, but not in England, for pleural plaques caused by workplace exposure to asbestos.
There can also be differences in the amount of compensation payable. So, for example, the family of a person fatally injured in an accident is likely to receive a higher amount of compensation if the accident occurred in Scotland rather than in England.
There are many procedural differences between the two jurisdictions, both at the pre-action and Court stages of a claim.
For instance, there are statutory pre-action protocols for managing personal injury claims in England. In Scotland, however, the pre-action protocols are voluntary and only apply if both the claimant and defendant agree that they should.
Costs and expenses
The differences between the two legal systems extend to a claimant's entitlement to have his or her costs (known as expenses in Scotland) paid by the defendant. The amount of costs which a claimant is entitled to receive also varies between Scotland and England.
Choice of jurisdiction
In some circumstances, a person who is injured in, for example, a workplace accident may be able to choose where to bring his or her claim. This type of situation can arise where, for instance, an accident occurs in one jurisdiction but the claimant's employer's place of business is in another jurisdiction.
In order to secure the best possible result for a claimant, his or her solicitor needs not only to be a claims expert but also to be expert in the law and procedures of the country where the claim is being brought. In addition, that solicitor may need the right of appearance in the Courts of that country.
A solicitor who practices in England does not have the right to represent a person in the Scottish Courts, and vice versa. Claims which are made in Scotland ought, therefore, to be brought and handled by specialist claims solicitors who practice in Scotland.
If you are considering claiming for injuries caused by an accident that occurred in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland and would like more information about the claims process in that country, contact Quittance's specialist team on 0800 376 1001.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.