Civil actions may be conducted in the Sheriff Court or in the Court of Session. Sheriff Court proceedings have no limit of jurisdiction in terms of money and may offer speed, simplicity and cheapness, but larger claims will usually be heard in the Court of Session, which always sits in Edinburgh. In certain damages actions (which includes those actions of damages for personal injuries and also defamation actions) the case may be heard by a judge sitting with a jury of twelve, although the vast majority of such cases are dealt with by a judge sitting alone. A diagram of the civil court system is shown below.
HSE becomes involved in civil proceedings because information may be held in the form of documents or property which may be of interest to the parties in the action. Inspectors may also be required to appear in court as witnesses.
- In civil cases, the place where the defender lives or is based (is domiciled),or the place where the accident took place will, in most cases, determine the location of the court in which the action is heard. Scottish procedures apply to all cases in the Scottish courts even if the inspector involved is based in England or Wales; equally if an inspector based in Scotland becomes involved in a civil case in England or Wales then the inspector will have to follow the procedures applying in England and Wales.