The Lord President, Lord Cullen, has announced new rules of court which will allow ‘fast-track’ court hearings in personal injury cases for terminally ill people, including asbestos sufferers. The new procedures, which will be introduced from 1 April 2003, follow the Justice 2 Committee’s report calling for speedier hearings in mesothelioma cases and other cases where the person is terminally ill and might otherwise die before the conclusion of the case. Reforms to the Court of Session rules mean that all personal injury cases will be set a hearing date in 12 months. The changes to the Court’s guidance on the new procedures make clear that where someone has a life expectancy of less than 12 months, the Court will look with considerable sympathy on any application to resolve the case in a shorter timescale.

The Justice 2 Committee’s report – 2nd Report 2003 – was a response to Petition PE336 submitted to the Parliament on 22 January 2001 by Frank Maguire of Thompsons solicitors on behalf of Clydeside Action on Asbestos.