The New Year brings an opportunity to review the past as well as to look forward to the future.

2015 was a year of change, with the implementation of long heralded court reforms, resulting in a significantly increased base limit for the raising of proceedings in the Court of Session – now £100,000 minimum. The effect of this is that all actions where the sum sued for is less than this sum, must now be raised in the sheriff court. A new “All Scotland Personal Injury Court” has been established to deal with the increased workload, and it is likely that further reforms will create greater specialisms in other areas of litigation. In addition, in the field of Judicial Review, the Court Reforms (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced a tight time limit for the raising of such proceedings – now just 3 months from ‘the date on which the grounds giving rise to the application first arise’ – and, in addition, the court requires to give permission for the Judicial Review to proceed, which permission will only be granted if the application has a real prospect of success. These provisions are similar to existing English procedure but represent a marked change from the procedure previously adopted in Scotland.  It is fair to say that everyone is still finding their feet in terms of the application and operation of these new rules.

Another major development in 2015 was a change to the law regarding ‘informed consent’ in medical negligence cases, as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board. The court held that a doctor is under a reasonable duty to ensure that their patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternatives. In other words, a patient requires to be fully advised of the options for treatment, and the risks and benefits of each option, and it is then for the patient, not the doctor, to decide which option to choose.

The grass did not grow under Drummond Miller’s feet either. We hosted an extremely successful conference for correspondents at Hampden in June, providing CPD for those in attendance, as well as an opportunity to network with our valued contacts over a pleasant lunch. 

We were proud to support two teams from the firm who entered the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Marathon Relay in March, to raise money for Shakti Women’s Aid, a charity which supports black minority ethnic women and young people who have experienced domestic abuse.

We are equally proud of the firm’s professional achievements last year. Our Family Law Team were shortlisted as finalists at the Law Awards Scotland, and our Immigration Team has again been ranked Band 1 in the 2015 ratings by the independent and well respected guide to the legal profession, the Legal 500. Partner, David Brown, was specifically mentioned for his ‘expertise in preparing all forms of applications’. Our Clinical Negligence team gained Top Tier recognition, with partner, Liesa Spiller, being singled out for her ‘organised, caring and compassionate’ approach. Partner, Jacqueline Moore, based in our Glasgow office, was accredited as a specialist in Immigration Law by the Law Society; and Partner Lynne Stratford, based in Dalkeith was similarly accredited as a Family Law Specialist.

And there is more! Internally, 2015 saw a number of well-deserved promotions, with Linsey Ferguson (Family Law, Musselburgh office) being promoted to Senior Associate; and Janey Armstrong (Immigration, Glasgow office), Amy Donachie (Family Law, Dalkeith office) and Katie Philp (Private Client, Edinburgh office) being promoted to Associate status. Joy MacLean was promoted to office manager in our Bathgate office and Lyn Sutherland (Private Client, Edinburgh office) passed her exams to qualify as a paralegal. Well done to all concerned!

Finally, we are delighted to report that the combined efforts of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Teams resulted in us obtaining awards of compensation for clients in 2015 totalling £12 million. 

We look forward to an equally successful 2016 and wish all our clients and contacts a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.