A court has ruled that Scottish advocates have immunity from being sued for their actions in court, despite the House of Lords ruling last year that their English counterparts are liable
As a result of this ruling, Scottish law firm Paton Farrell has defeated a professional negligence claim brought against it. The case related to the conduct of a solicitor, although the ruling also applies to advocates, the Scottish equivalent of English barristers. The court found that the decision in Arthur JS Hall Simons, which made English barristers liable for negligence suits, was not binding in Scotland. However, it found that an earlier Scottish case before the Lord Ordinary where Scottish counsel were deemed to be immune from claims “because of the nature of their office”, did bind on the Scottish court. The Court of Session considered the various differences between Scottish and English public policy to further highlight the non-binding nature of Hall Simons. For instance, England employs the cab rank principle, wasted costs and ways of controlling and disposing of wasted costs which “has no parallel in Scotland”. It also dismissed the claimant’s allegation that advocates’ immunity breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.