In 2004, a judge ruled in favour of Robert Napier, a prisoner who complained of conditions at Glasgow's Barlinnie jail, in particular having to use a chamber pot and being forced to empty it each morning. He was awarded £2,450. That led to thousands of other actions and compensation running into many millions of pounds was paid by the Scottish government on behalf of the Scottish Prison Service.
In 2009, in an attempt to block "historical" claims, the government changed the law so that inmates had a year after being exposed to slopping out to raise a damages action.
The change applied only to cases raised subsequently, and did not catch those already in the system, such as yesterday's test cases.