Access to justice in Scotland’s court doesn't come cheap at the best of times, however in a startling case which may well be the tip of a gigantic iceberg, it has been reported that a ninety three year old pensioner in the Shetland Islands is facing a £120,000 bill after a court battle with Scottish Water, local landowners & the Shetland Island Council.
The Press & Journal report that Patricia Anderson, 93, is now hoping the Supreme Court in London may rule in her favour.
Shetland woman, 93, faces £120,000 bill after court battle
By Ross Davidson Published: 08/02/2011
An elderly woman is facing a £120,000 legal bill after a court battle against Shetland Islands Council and Scottish Water.
Patricia Anderson, 93, will have to pay for the expenses incurred by the two authorities and nearby landowners after her fight to protect her home failed.
Mrs Anderson, who lives at the bottom of a steep hill at Scalloway, fears her home is being destroyed by water from overflowing drains after 21 houses were built nearby.
The cause, nature and extent of the damage to the property has been disputed at legal hearings, but after Mrs Anderson’s last appeal failed she is now left with a £120,500 legal bill – which she claims is more than the value of her property.
Her last hope is Supreme Court judges in London will agree to hear her case. If her case is thrown out again, Mrs Anderson will have to pay the expenses of the council, Scottish Water and the landowners who built the homes above her property.
She has pursued the organ-isations through the courts for five years to find out who should pay for the damage to her home of over 35 years, Sea Chest at East Voe.
A small claims case at Lerwick Sheriff Court in 2006 found that the council was at fault under common law and there was an excess of surface water which could have been avoided by proper drainage.
But the court had no power over the council, forcing her to take the matter to a judicial review at the Court of Session. This was dismissed in 2008, and an appeal against that was rejected last year.
A family spokesman said Mrs Anderson is facing the legal bill because of failings in the Scottish justice system. “If we were in Europe, she would go to a tribunal in her local town, pay a small fee and an experienced tribunal chairman would give her an answer,” he said.
“This is a case where both organisations are blaming each other, but she should not have to go through a lengthy and costly litigation to get answers.”
The council said as proceedings were ongoing there was “little comment” it could make, but it had sent her a letter to tell her “some detailed aspects of her complaint not subject to the legal proceedings could be dealt with, should she identify them to us”. Scottish Water said the authority is “sensitive” to the issue, and it is not actively pursuing the money.