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Scottish courts take hearings online


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has run its first online hearings as a step to maintaining social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

It has also indicated that the move could have long term implications for the legal process in Scotland.

SCTS said it has been working with relevant parties to pilot and agree on the proceedings for a virtual court.

Four Inner House appeal hearings were scheduled to take place last week, with arrangements being made for future hearings, and plans were made for most custody hearings to take place remotely.

Cases involving possible offenders confirmed or suspected of having coronavirus were already using video links.

SCTS chief executive Eric McQueen said: “While this is an immediate response to coronavirus there is no doubt that the learning will inform our thinking to make virtual courts a permanent addition to our Scottish courts. It is thanks to everyone’s commitment and support that we are able to create the online court and to introduce remote hearings into the Outer House.

“We are currently in discussion with sheriffs principal and the Law Society for Scotland on the scope of urgent and essential civil business in sheriff courts, to assess whether other business can be carried out remotely and what phased steps can be taken.”

Image: High Court of Justiciary (detail) by RonAlmog, CC BY 2.0

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