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Cap proposed for planning bid costs

Plans to cap the legal costs people would have to pay if they challenged a planning decision and lost have been put forward by the Scottish Government.

While the usual rule in civil cases is the loser pays, ministers have published plans to limit the amount of legal costs an unsuccessful challenger would pay to the other side to £5,000.

Meanwhile, a cap could also be brought in so the defending party in such a case would only have to pay a maximum of £30,000 of the challenger’s legal fees.

The proposals would apply in cases challenging decisions made by public authorities which impact on the environment, such as planning decisions on major infrastructure projects like wind farm developments, major roads and waste incinerators.

The Holyrood administration is consulting on the proposals and legal affairs minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “The Scottish Government is committed to affordable access to justice in cases of importance, including where environmental issues are at stake.

“Challenges to these decisions can, however, have significant impacts on the economy. We are determined to ensure that major planning and infrastructure decisions are not unreasonably delayed.

“The proposals we are consulting upon, therefore, seek to achieve a fair balance between the costs to persons wishing to challenge these decisions and the potential implications for economic development.”

The consultation runs until April 3, with the findings then being presented to the Court of Sessions Rules Council to assist the Lord President – Scotland’s top judge – in developing Rules of Court.

Ms Cunningham added: “I hope all those with an interest will assist with the development of further policy in this area by responding to the consultation.”