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Sanction for Counsel Allowed on Appeal - Cumming v SSE Plc - Catriona Hepburn, Brodies LLP

27/04/17. In the Sheriff Court (Scotland’s County Court) parties will not automatically recover the cost of counsel and must instead seek approval, or sanction, from the Sheriff. This case was an appeal against the sheriff’s decision to approve the pursuer’s (claimant’s) use of counsel. Despite the case settling for just £9,175 the Sheriff Appeal Court upheld the Sheriff’s decision that the use of counsel was reasonable.

Damages had been sought for pleural plaques developed due to exposure to asbestos during the course of employment. The pursuer had been employed as an electrician for just over 26 years. The liability for and value of his claim were in dispute, but the case ultimately settled in the sum £9,175. Counsel appeared for both parties in the original action (and, indeed, on appeal).

The recent court reforms impose a positive duty on the court to sanction the employment of counsel if it considers in all the circumstances it is reasonable to do so. This involves consideration of several factors including:

  • The difficulty and complexity of the case...

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