Technical Guidance
COVID-19 Contingency Arrangements

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Update - Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (25 March 2020)
Update - Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (25 March 2020)

Update - Court Arrangements from 25 March

The UK and Scottish Government have put in place stringent restrictions to our normal day to day lives, to slow the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed – restrictions essential to save life. 

The only permissible reasons to leave home are as follows:

  • To shop for basic necessities and that should be limited to once a day
  • To take exercise once a day - but alone or with your own household, not in groups
  • For medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person
  • To travel to essential work if that cannot be done at home.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service provide an essential public service. During this period it is critical that we maintain public trust and confidence by maintaining the essential services that support justice.

Courts have already ceased all jury trials, adjourned all but essential summary criminal trials, adjourned all civil hearings involving witnesses and Tribunals will only proceed with essential hearings by audio conference. We have also backed this up with strong advice to the public not to attend our buildings.

In response to the new stringent restrictions we are now moving to the next phase of our contingency plans.

Supreme Courts

The Court of Session will continue to sit in Parliament House dealing with essential civil business – all other business will be continued as required.  Urgent business includes: child abduction petitions, interim interdicts and other urgent matters on cause shown.  Urgent business should be emailed to CoSurgent@scotcourts.gov.uk
Amended guidance for Court of Session business is available here.

The High Court will continue to sit in Lawnmarket and Saltmarket. The court will continue to deal with preliminary hearings and adjourn trials.

A document for guidance of High Court and Sheriff Appeal Court Criminal practitioners has been published and is available here.

Sheriff and JP Courts

From Wednesday 25 March 2020 all court business will be adjourned or continued administratively except for (i) cases where the accused is in custody (ii) appearances from undertakings and (iii) emergency civil applications.

 Please see below for details of undertaking cases.

 All cases where the accused is in custody and all emergency civil applications will be consolidated within Sheriffdoms, into ten Sheriff Courts, as detailed:

 

Glasgow & Strathkelvin

Glasgow Sheriff and JP Court


Lothian & Borders

Edinburgh Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Livingston, Selkirk & Jedburgh)


Tayside, Central & Fife

Dundee Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Forfar and Perth)

Falkirk Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Stirling, Alloa, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy)


Grampian, Highland & Islands

Inverness Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Elgin, Fort William, Tain, Wick and the Island Courts).  Island custody courts will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Aberdeen Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Peterhead and Banff)


North Strathclyde

Paisley Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Greenock and Dumbarton)

Kilmarnock Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Dunoon, Oban and Campbeltown)


South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway

Hamilton Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring Airdrie, Lanark and Ayr)

Dumfries Sheriff and JP Court (business transferring from Stranraer)


Appearance from Undertaking

Undertakings will continue to call in the court specified on the undertaking where possible. Where the specified court is not one of the 10 listed above the specified court will open only to hear the undertaking case(s). 

 

Civil Business

If you have urgent civil business please contact the appropriate court, from the 10 listed above, to arrange for the case or application to be dealt with.  Urgent business includes: new applications for child protection orders, interim interdicts, child referral appeals, urgent adoptions or urgent interim residence or contact applications, caveats and urgent applications in relation to Adults with Incapacity.

 

Out of Hours

Normal out of hours arrangements will apply.

 

Video links between courts and police custody  

In another measure to reduce risk, all accused persons with symptoms of COVID-19 appearing from custody will have their case conducted via video link.  We are also working hard to extend this to all custodies – and are developing an approach that will allow agents to represent clients by telephone.

 

Health and Safety

In line with Government advice these courts will not be accessible to the general public. Robust social distancing and enhanced cleaning regimes will be in place throughout the working day, with regular sterilisation of touch points and other areas of increased exposure.  If you see anything that concerns you, get in touch with a local manager so that the issue can be resolved.

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25 March 2020

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