North east solicitors hit out at plans to ‘dilute’ sheriff court

Peterhead Sheriff Court (Google Street View)

Solicitors have hit out at court chiefs’ plans to stop using a north east court for jury trials.

The Aberdeen Bar Association (ABA) has said the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s (SCTS) decision to stop hosting jury trials at Peterhead Sheriff Court was a case of diluting justice in order to save money.

Liam McAllister, president of the ABA, called on the Scottish government to supply “proper funding” to the courts.

He told the Press and Journal: “The court service as a whole needs proper funding and resources and this is just another example of cost cutting from the government.

“It’s diluting local justice within the community.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The operation of the courts and the efficient disposal of business in sheriff courts are matters for the SCTS and the local sheriffs principal.

“The SCTS has made clear that the movement of jury trials is part of wider changes to improve specialisation and ensure Scotland has a modern court structure fit for the 21st century.”

An SCTS spokesman said the Peterhead court will only host juries in exceptional circumstances, where a case was of “particular local interest” or “where the interests of justice require the local court”.