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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 18:16 GMT
Demand for overhaul of civil law
The civil law system covers issues such as care of children
Calls have been made by an expert group for a shake-up of the civil law system in Scotland.

The system deals with disputes such as divorce, care of children, property and problems over faulty goods.

Members of an advisory group set up by the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) said the system was too slow, complex and expensive.

They have called on ministers to look at it again in an attempt to make sure it is modern and efficient.

The body was particularly concerned about crippling costs which made it impractical for people to seek compensation in cases which have a relatively low value.

Members were also worried that criminal cases were being given priority in the courts and that existing powers were not tough enough to make sure legal rulings were observed.

'Securing justice'

The group's chairman Lord Coulsfield said: "We have concluded that there are key issues that need to be addressed.

"It is crucial that the civil justice system should be and be seen to be capable of securing justice for those who have to use it.

"It should not be distant and difficult to use."

Chairman of the SCC Graeme Millar said: "The report contains many important suggestions which have the potential to improve the way the civil justice system operates in Scotland."

Plans to reform family law were agreed in principle by MSPs in September.

Reform of the Family Law (Scotland) Bill could see unmarried fathers and gay couples being given more rights.

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