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Summary

  1. Nicola Sturgeon insists that rejecting the UK government's Brexit Bill deal was 'in the national interest' at FMQs
  2. The president of Malawi speaks about friendship between Scotland and Malawi
  3. Elsewhere, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson announces she is 13 weeks pregnant

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

That's all from Holyrood Live!

Jen Wilson and Ruth Davidson
Scottish Conservatives
Jen Wilson and Ruth Davidson

That brings to an early bath our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 26 April 2018.

Political events were somewhat overshadowed by the announcement by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson that she is 13 weeks pregnant.

Ms Davidson said she and her partner Jen Wilson were "excited" to be expecting their first child in October after undergoing IVF.

Congratulations from across the politcal spectrum blossomed on twitter.

Before the consensus, at FMQs, less cordial relations were observed between Nicola Sturgeon and Ms Davidson, as they clashed over the Scottish government rejecting the Brexit deal.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that rejecting a deal with the UK government over post-Brexit powers was "in the national interest".

Nicola Sturgeon said changes made by the UK government would still restrict some of the Scottish Parliament's powers
bbc
Nicola Sturgeon said changes made by the UK government would still restrict some of the Scottish Parliament's powers

The first minister was speaking as Ms Ruth Davidson accused her of putting the "nationalist interest" first.

At lunchtime the president of Malawi Peter Mutharika addressed MSPs.

Have a lovely and peaceful weekend.

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika
bbc
President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

New Standards Commissioner appointed

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale
BBC
Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, representing the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, speaks to her motion to appoint Paul Walker as a member of the Standards Commission for Scotland.

The motion is agreed.

Review of part 4 to be delayed until it has bedded in

Ms Ewing
BBC

The next and final grouping of amendments deal with the ability to review the Act (once passed) after five years.

Ms Ewing says there is no point triggering scrutiny of part 4 of the Bill until they have had a change to bed in.

It will take time to develop group procedure rules and therefore a review five years from legislative consent will not result in a meaningful review, she says.

The minister clarifies that the five year review will take place for parts 1 to 3 five years from royal assent, but part 4 will be five years from group procedure come into force.

The amendments are agreed unanimously.

That ends the amendment stage of the Bill. MSPs return to debate is more broadly next week.

Baby box on the way!

'Listen very carefully I will say this only once'

Michelle of the resistance is channelled by the deputy presiding officer
bbc
Michelle of the resistance is channelled by the deputy presiding officer

Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani interrupts Gordon Lindhurst to chastise, quite amusingly, the chattering MSPs.

"Listen very carefully I will say this only once."

Sans le français accent mal heureusement, of course Ms Fabiani is quoting the somewhat dated sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!

Not one for you younger viewers!

Moving swiftly on to.....Group 8 on group proceedings

Opt-in and opt-out group proceedings
Scottish Parliament
Opt-in and opt-out group proceedings

The minister is on her feet again, this time speaking to amendments relating to group proceedings, relating to opt-in and opt-out proceedings.

Group 7 Auditors of court

Auditor of the Court of Session
Auditor of the Court of Session
Auditor of the Court of Session

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing takes us into amendments relating to the auditor of court.

Click here for the Auditor of the Court of Session website.

The minister's amendments are agreed to without debate or demur.

Minister raises concerns about move away from pay-as-you-go court fees

Ms Ewing
bbc

The minister says the government has sought to widen the circumstances when people will be exempt from court fees.

She says billing for court fees at the end of cases will create a burden.

Ms Ewing says SCTS worte with concerns about any move away from the pay-as-you-go basis of paying.

That's why she has problems with amendments 37, 36 and 38 and calls for backing for her amendment 39.

Amendments 36 and37 are duly rejected.

Labour and Green amendments seek to shift the burden of debt

Green MSP John Finnie
bbc
Green MSP John Finnie

'Pursuer’s liability for court fees in personal injury claim' is the next grouping.

Green MSP John Finnie asks whether it is right for trade unions to have money tied up in the courts system, arguing instead the burden should be placed on the courts.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says court fees are currently paid on a pay-as-you-go basis.

His amendment changes this to ensure payments are made at the conclusion of the case, thus shifting the burden of debt away from the pursuer and trade unions to the courts, he explains.

He backs Mr Finnie's amendment.

Following last week's debate here in Holyrood...

SNP MP Alison Thewlis has lodged a members bill on safe drug consumption facilities at Westminster.

View more on twitter

Isolated exaggeration will not be deemed fraud says minister

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing
BBC

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing assures members an isolated incidence of minor exaggeration will not be deemed fraudulent.

She expresses concern Mr Finnie's amendment attaches the fraud to the claim itself.

The minister says the Scottish government will support Mr Johnson's amendment to Mr Finnie's amendment, but overall she would rather Mr Finnie's does not pass.

Mr Finnie accepts the minister's reasoning and opts to withdraw his amendment.

Green MSP says his amendment seeks to fix 'vague' language

Green MSP John Finnie
BBC
Green MSP John Finnie

The next grouping is on 'grounds on which pursuer may be liable for expenses in personal injury claim'.

Green MSP John Finnie warns vague and uncertain language will lead to satellite legislation.

He says his amendment will fix this.

A question over ministerial powers to modify the legislation

Chamber
BBC

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says his amendment seeks to remove an "unusual power" which is "very wide in scope".

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing argues amendments brought forward at stage 2 restricted these powers.

She says the power "would be beneficial" and asks Mr Johnson to withdraw.

The amendment goes to a vote but is not agreed (For 53, Against 61).

Parliament backs Daniel Johnsons' amendments

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson
bbc
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says Margaret Mitchell's amendment would lead to fewer opportunities to take forward cases.

Mr Johnson says his amendments will increase access to justice.

MSPs duly back his amendments, with opposition from the Tories.

Ms Mitchell sees her amendment rejected.

Minister warns about restricting access to justice

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing
BBC

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing confirms that after discussions from stakeholders, it appears that stage 2 amendments may restrict access to justice.

This approach has led to DBAs not taking off in England and Wales, she says.

Ms Mitchell argues the situation in England and Wales is not analogous with Scotland.

The minister urges members to back Mr Johnson's amendments and oppose Ms Mitchell's amendment.

Who is Sheriff Principal James Taylor?

From the Scottish government archive
bbc
From the Scottish government archive

Sheriff Principal Taylor wrote to the Justice Committee at the start of March to raise his concerns about a stage 2 amendment which was passed.

He said that the amendment may result in DBAs not being offered to pursuers who have sustained catastrophic injury.

He added: "The recent amendment thus poses an existential threat to DBAs being offered in higher value cases in Scotland. What will be the consequence of the amendment? The likely outcome is that cases will either not be raised at all or will settle for considerably less than the true value of the claim."

You can view that letter here.

Lib Dem MSP admits committee got it wrong on ringfencing future losses

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur
bbc
Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur admits the committee got it wrong.

Mr McArthur says ringfencing future losses, as it voted for at stage 2, would have perverse consequences, that were highlighted by Sheriff Principal Taylor.

Mr Johnson's amendments also secure the backing of Green MSP John Finnie.

However Tory MSP Liam Kerr speaks against them and back's Ms Mitchell's amendment.

'No win, no fee' - amendments on ringfencing future losses

Amendments
Scottish Parilament
Amendment
SP

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson takes us into Group 3 amendments on damages for future loss, with a chilling apology for the forthcoming complexity his arguments.

Mr Johnson says success fees are also known as "no win, no fee".

He wants to reverse amendments passed at Stage 2, with, he says, the backing of Sheriff Principal Taylor and the Law Society.

The Labour MSP speaks against the amendment from Margaret Mitchell.

The Tory MSP puts forward her argument for her amendment.

Background: Briefing from the Scottish Parliament website

The Civil Litigation Bill implements a number of recommendations from the Taylor Review of Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation in Scotland. It aims to increase access to justice in Scotland

Court of Session sign
BBC

The parliament's briefing highlights the following changes proposed in the Bill:

Minor and technical amendments unanimously agreed to

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing
bbc
Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing speaks to her minor and technical amendments, all of which are unanimously agreed to.

MSPs vote to reject amendment 34 on success fees

MSPs vote to reject amendment 34 on success fees, with 29 for and 84 against.

No agreement on the amendment so ...... a cheeky five minute break!

MSPs do not agree to amendment 34 on success fees so we have our first division and that's time for a cuppa.

Minister calls for MSPs to reject success fee amendment

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing
bbc
Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing calls on MSPs to reject Ms Mitchell's amendment on success fee agreements.

Ms Ewing says it would undermine the principle of an independently regulated legal profession.

She undertakes to write to the Law Society to raise the issues pointed out by Margaret Mitchell.

Amendment adds 'unnecessary layer of bureaucracy'

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson
BBC
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says he shares many of the concerns raised by Ms Mitchell, but his party does not support the amendment.

He says it will introduce an "unnecessary layer of bureaucracy".

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur agrees with this summation.

He adds that the five-year review clause in the legislation will allow a return to consideration of the issues mentioned.

Background: Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill

The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill will make provision about success fee agreements and expenses in civil litigation.

It will also make provision about:

  • the offices of the Auditor of the Court of Session
  • the auditor of the Sheriff Appeal Court
  • the auditor of the sheriff court
  • and make provision about the bringing of civil proceedings on behalf of a group of persons

And we're off.........with an amendment on success fee agreements

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell
bbc
Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell says: "For an ordinary member of the public understanding civil litigation can be a complex and confusing process."

Uh oh!

Ms Mitchell says this Bill seeks to increase access to justice.

The Tory MSPs says her amendment will ensure the injured persuer has the information to make an informed choice on whether to take the succes fee or not.