Call for evidence on the Prescription (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament's Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee is seeking views on the Prescription (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1. 

This is a Scottish Law Commission Bill, introduced into the Scottish Parliament, by the Scottish Government on Thursday 8 February 2018.

The Bill implements the legislative recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission’s Report on Prescription (SLC No 247; July 2017). That Report made recommendations to address a number of issues within the law of negative prescription, which have caused or could cause difficulty in practice, and to increase the clarity, certainty and fairness of provisions. The Bill therefore makes several technical amendments to the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 (“the 1973 Act”), in relation to negative prescription only.

Negative prescription establishes a time-limit within which a person who is aggrieved must raise their claim in court. If the time-limit is missed, the ability to pursue the claim is lost, because the right or obligation is extinguished once the prescriptive period has expired.

Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on the provisions of the Bill.

Those submitting evidence should feel free to address any, or all, of the policy issues contained in the Bill.

Read the Bill and accompanying documents.

It would be helpful if written submissions could address the following questions:

  1. Do you have any concerns about the approach taken in the Bill.
  2. Do you think that negative prescription produces harsh results in individual cases? (You could illustrate by way of examples if you think that would be helpful to the Committee). If so, is this acceptable in policy terms?
  3. Do you agree to the proposed extension in section 3 to the scope of the 5-year negative prescription, so it would apply to all statutory obligations to make payment(unless there are policy reasons to except them)?
  4. Do you agree with the list of exceptions to the general rule relating to statutory payments set out in section 3 of the Bill? 
  5. Do you have any concerns about the proposed new discoverability test in section 5?
  6. Do you agree with the proposed change to the starting date of the prescriptive period in relation to obligations to pay damages in sections 5 and 8? 
  7. Do you agree with the proposal in sections 6 and 7 to make the 20-year period no longer amenable to interruption by a relevant claim or relevant acknowledgement?
  8. Do you agree with the proposal to allow the extension of the 20-year period in certain circumstances as set out in sections 6 and 7?
  9. Do you have any concerns about those sections of the bill (sections 4, 13 and 14) that seek to clarify the law on prescription? 
  10. What are the financial implications of the Bill? 
  11. The Scottish Government says that the Bill will increase clarity, certainty and fairness. It also says it will promote a more efficient use of resources (in that people will be less likely to have to raise court proceedings to preserve rights) and will reduce costs for those involved in insurance and litigation. Do you agree with this assessment?

How to submit your evidence

Before making a submission, please read our policy on treatment of written evidence. In line with that policy, submissions will normally be published on our website. If you wish your evidence to be treated as confidential or published anonymously, please make this clear when submitting your evidence.

Submissions should be limited to no more than eight pages of A4. Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to the following email address: [email protected]

Responses can also be sent by post to:

Clerk to the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, Chamber Office, Room T1.01, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.

The closing date for receipt of submissions is 6pm on Wednesday 4 April 2018.

Further information

For further information about submitting evidence or the Committee’s work on the Prescription (Scotland) Bill contact:

Euan Donald: 0131 348 5212 [email protected]

Katherine.Wright: 0131 348 5175 [email protected]

Daren Pratt: 0131 348 6282 [email protected]


For media information, contact:

Angela Kelly: 0131 348 6260 [email protected]

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