Criminal Justice Committee
The Act of Sederunt (Fees of Messengers at Arms and Sheriff officers) (Amendment) 2021
Letter from the Lord President to the Convener, Criminal Justice Committee, Friday 10 September 2021
Thank you for your letter of 6 September 2021. You raise two questions on behalf of members of the Criminal Justice Committee and I am happy to provide answers thereto.
First, the Committee seeks an explanation of the rationale for the level of increase of the existing fees. I appreciate that some background would be helpful to set out why an increase of 6% in the fees of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers was considered appropriate.
The attached link to the relevant part of the Scottish Civil Justice Council website SCJC meeting - 26 April 2021 - papers and minutes allows members to access the relevant policy paper with accompanying documents and the minutes of the SCJC meeting of 26 April (at which the instrument was approved by members). You will note that the last inflationary uplift in relation to these fees was in 2018. It is therefore a 6% increase in respect of a number of years of inflation to reflect the costs of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers in performing their role.
The 6% increase was based on a blend of CPI/CPIH over the period 2009 - 2019. This approach was considered appropriate as it took account of the inflation figures over that ten year period as well as the fee uplift in 2018 and incorporated an element of inflationary uplift. At the meeting of 26 April, members noted Annex A and B to Paper 3.2 which show the pattern of percentage increases for every amendment order made since 2002. The indexation indicates that the figure of 6% is a reasonable and justifiable uplift to bring fees up to a fully inflation adjusted position since the last approved fee increase in 2018.
In relation to the second question, the instrument was laid on 27th May 2021 and came into force on 30 June 2021. This ensured that the instrument came into force before the Parliament's summer recess. The instrument has prospective application only and no retrospective element. It may be that Parliament has only now placed it before the Committee for consideration, which may give the impression that it is retrospective.
I hope this information is useful and provides sufficient clarification for the Committee.