Increased use of arbitration could reduce pressure on courts
New measures designed to make it easier to resolve disputes could make Scotland a world-leader in business arbitration, the Scottish Government has said.
Ministers hope the Arbitration (Scotland) Bill will attract more international business to Scotland.
Arbitration involves parties agreeing to submit a dispute to a third party, often with specialist expertise.
The right to go to court is waived by those involved. The process has been used mainly by business and industry.
Ministers hope the bill will encourage those involved in industries, trades and professions to set up low-cost arbitration.
The government said increased use of arbitration in commercial and consumer disputes would reduce the pressure on courts.
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said: "This government wants to develop Scotland as a dispute resolution centre, which attracts international arbitration cases as well as domestic ones.
"Given the importance of world trade, there will be increasing demand for high quality arbitration services as the way to resolve cross-border commercial disputes.
"Scotland should be an easy place to do business and it needs the law and courts to back this up and make Scotland the choice for dispute resolutions."
As well as clarifying and consolidating Scottish arbitration law, the bill will provide a statutory framework for arbitration to allow for fairness and impartiality.
John Campbell QC, president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, said the bill, if passed, would see Scotland "leading the way" worldwide in dispute resolution.
"The bill will be of benefit to everyone, from consumers who are unhappy with a service provided by a tradesman to large businesses caught up in what otherwise might prove to be lengthy and expensive litigation," he said.
"This is a landmark piece of legislation, one of the most important in the economic history of Scotland."