COVID-19 Update

Apr 09, 2020
The urgent and emergency business being conducted in Scottish Courts has reduced the number of staff, judiciary and court users required to work from our buildings and is absolutely in keeping with the Government’s instruction – stay home, save lives.

In reducing the numbers of people in our buildings, there is no reduction in the need for everyone attending to take personal responsibility for social distancing. Protect your personal space and respect others’ personal space.

This is not a “mothballing” of court business but sensible measures to protect public health.

We understand entirely the frustration caused by these measures and the impact across the whole justice system, which is why they are under constant review.

We have started the first video criminal custody hearings through direct links to police stations and this will become the norm for all custody hearings. We are finalising work with COPFS and the Law Society, which will enable participation in all hearings by telephone or video link.

We are working to introduce remote digital hearings for Inner House Appeals and will be seeking to expand this into other areas of civil business. Further guidance will be available in the coming week, enabling suitable procedural business to be heard remotely.

Increasing digital hearings is not just about technology but includes people and processes. While digital hearings enable practitioners to remain at home conducting business online, the reality is that the majority of civil court processes are still heavily paper based, currently requiring more staff to travel to courts in order to create digital bundles to allow hearings to proceed.

Putting changes in place is complex and the arrangements have to work. This has taken time, but we are moving to conducting more digital business. We have had great support from across the justice community so far and this support and willingness to provide digital bundles will be required when we are able  to expand on the current services and start the journey towards a recovery phase.

We are listening and responding.

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