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Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Section 102 – Power to make orders in relation to vexatious behaviour

173.Section 102(1) allows the Scottish Ministers to make regulations (subject to the negative procedure) to empower the courts to deal with vexatious behaviour. Scottish Ministers will require to consult the Lord President prior to making regulations.

174.This section is designed to empower the courts to deal with vexatious behaviour and abuse of process in a similar way to the use of Civil Restraint Orders (CROs) by the courts of England and Wales. CROs are part of the inherent powers of the courts of that jurisdiction and are a form of order which may be granted by them in response to unmeritorious applications or claims by a litigant. The effect of such orders is to require a litigant to obtain the permission of a specified judge or court (as the case may be) prior to making applications in a particular case or cases, or from raising actions, either generally or in specific courts. They are a flexible, court-led response to abuse of the court process, which can be tailored to ensure that the rights of the litigant in question are balanced against both the rights of the other parties to any action and the efficient operation of the court.

175.Despite section 102 there will continue to be a role for the Lord Advocate as guardian of the public interest (under section 100 and 101): it may be possible for a vexatious litigant, through a wide geographical spread of different actions, not to trouble one court sufficiently to trigger the court-led sanction, but in his or her behaviour overall, to trouble the system or one litigant in a variety of courts. That said, now that the courts will be given this power, it is expected that the number of actions required to be taken by the Lord Advocate will decrease.

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