Criminal business in sheriff courts extended
Sheriff courts can now proceed to hear and dispose of cases where it is agreed by parties that they can be resolved without the need for a trial.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, criminal court business in Scotland is currently limited to urgent and essential business which includes custody hearings, urgent bail hearings or applications to extend custody time limits.
National guidance drawn up and agreed by the six sheriffs principal, means that cases can proceed where the solicitor for the accused and prosecutor have agreed that the proceedings may be capable of determination without the accused or his/her solicitor being present at the hearing.
David Fraser, SCTS director of operations, said: “Working with COPFS and the Law Society we are introducing these practical measures which can be safely applied during the current lockdown arrangements. We are all very conscious of the impact of any delay on the individuals involved in cases whether as an accused, victim or witness and this will allow further cases to be resolved at this time.
“SCTS is very much engaged with other justice organisations in extending court business at this time and designing the steps required to further increase business when the lockdown arrangements are eased. There needs to be a new transitional model in place and we are grateful to all our colleagues and staff for their contributions towards how we continue to respond to these challenges and keep all who interact with the justice system safe.”