Evidence and Procedure Review

2013 to 2016

The Initial Review

In 2013 Lord Carloway, the then Lord Justice Clerk, called for “clear-sky thinking” to help bring trial procedures rooted in the Victorian era into the modern, technologically-enhanced society today and in years to come.    He initiated and chaired this Review which aimed to kick-start that thinking by exploring the best way, in the modern technological world, to ascertain the truth in the context of the criminal trial.   In particular, the Review researched what contribution might be made by the greater use of pre-recorded evidence.

The published results of that Review can be found in:

And the outcomes were:

  • A new high level vision of a radical digital transformation of the summary criminal justice system; and
  • A new approach to ensure children and vulnerable adult witnesses can give the best quality of evidence while being protected from further trauma

2016 to 2017 

The Working Group on Summary Crime

The high level vision for summary crime that was suggested in the "Next Steps" paper was developed by a cross-justice working group into a “new model” for summary criminal court procedure which places digital technology and strong case management at the heart of the process.

The published results of that work can be seen in:

The Working Group on Recording Evidence in Chief

As part of the recommended new approach to taking the evidence of children and vulnerable adult witnesses a cross-justice working group looked at pre-recording of evidence in chief and it addressed two issues i) improving and creating consistency in current approaches to visually recording “Joint Investigative Interviews” with certain child witnesses so that those interviews can be used more frequently as evidence in chief; and ii) extending the visual recording of investigative interviews and/or witness statements to other child and vulnerable adult witnesses. 

The published results of that work can be seen in:

The Working Group on Further Evidence and Cross Examination

A further cross-justice working group focused on i) improving existing procedures for the taking of Evidence by Commissioner developing a new Practice Note for use in the High Court; and ii) developing a future vision for taking all of the evidence of children and vulnerable adult witnesses in advance of trial and in some instances, in a completely different way. 

The published results of that work can be seen in:

2018 onwards

Children and Vulnerable Witnesses

Informed in part by work undertaken on the Evidence and Procedure Review, the Scottish Government introduced primary legislation that creates a legal presumption in favour of the pre-recording of evidence from child witnesses, and adult vulnerable witnesses.  The Act, which received Royal Assent in June 2019, also removes some of the legislative barriers identified in the current process.   The text of the Act can be found in the link below:

The SCTS does want to add new child friendly and trauma informed venues so that we have an increased capacity to respond to the expected growth in the use of pre-recorded evidence. Funding for the first such venue in Glasgow was provided by the Scottish Government and the new facility has been open for bookings from October 2019. Further detail is available in our press release:

New Summary Criminal Model

During 2018 and 2019 a new Practice Note was developed by the Judiciary in conjunction with court officials and justice partners, and published as practice Note 2 of 2019:

That Practice Note provides the underpinning guidance to practitioners for the pilots of the new case management approach which we will be running over eighteen months in three sheriff court districts.  The ongoing evaluation of those pilots will help to inform changes in the approach to case management, and our future decisions on any national rollout.