Open Letter to Edinburgh Bar Association - Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Nov 01, 2021

Dear President,

Firstly, I would like to make it clear that throughout the pandemic entry to SCTS buildings has been restricted to those whose presence is essential to ensure court business is progressed. Solicitors who are attending court to take instructions, provide advice and represent their clients are essential to this and full access has been, and will continue to be, provided to court buildings and their clients held in custody.

A specific isolated incident occurred in Edinburgh on Saturday 30 October involving one solicitor who was asked to leave the court building at the request of an SCTS member of staff. This followed SCTS staff being advised that the solicitor was within the cell area advising prisoners, who were not his clients, by discouraging them from using the duty solicitor. Contrary to social media reports, the solicitor was not in consultation with a nominated client when asked to leave the court building and we understand had no further advice, instructions or nominated client representation to undertake that day. The court had facilitated his consultation with his client.

PDSO were the designated duty solicitors for Saturday 30 October. The duty solicitor has an obligation to the court to be available to represent individuals who are entitled to their services. These obligations remain until the court concludes and their services can be requested at any time until the court concludes.

There has been no interference from SCTS or officers of Police Scotland preventing solicitors from taking instructions, providing advice or representing their clients. SCTS is happy to give reassurance to all EBA members that the court will not only facilitate defence solicitors providing advice to clients in the court cells, but welcomes the assistance this brings to the criminal justice system.

I hope this clarifies the position and gives assurance to your members who have chosen not to enter our building.


Yours sincerely

David Fraser

Executive Director Court Operations

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

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