Thirty-six evidence-led High Court trials in latest quarter

Thirty-six evidence-led High Court trials in latest quarter

There were 36 evidence led trials in the High Court in the latest quarter and no adjournments due to lack of court time, new figures show.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service quarterly statistical bulletin contains figures on activity in all High, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace and criminal appeal courts with national trends as well as detailed figures for local courts in solemn and summary criminal business.

A total of 15,643 cases were concluded in this quarter which is more than four times the number of cases concluded in Q1 2020/21.

The number of first instance criminal cases registered has risen by 51 per cent to 23,534 in Q2 2020/21, when compared to the first quarter of 2020/21.

This figure is approximately 89 per cent of the average per quarter in 2019/20, a clear indication that business levels are returning towards normal during the Coronavirus pandemic.

There has been a 38 per cent rise to 30,956 trials in scheduled at the end of June 2020 compared to those still to call as at the end of September 2020.

This is wholly attributable to summary business which saw trial diets being fixed for the priority cases that were entering pleas. The number of trials scheduled is an indication of system capacity as it shows the volume of trial business at the end of each financial year or quarter.

Other highlights include:

  • In the High Court, there were 36 evidence led trials in the quarter and no adjournments due to lack of court time.
  • In Sheriff Courts Solemn business, the number of petitions registered is 28 per cent higher than the previous quarter at 3,210 and remains higher than all quarters during 2019/20.
  • The number of scheduled Sheriff Court Summary trials has risen 41 per cent since the end of June 2020 and by 80 per cent since the end of March 2020 to a total of 25,146 as at the end of September 2020.

Chief operations officer David Fraser said: “Since re-opening in June, our courts look and feel very different. COVID-19, while reducing our courtroom capacity, has also changed the way cases are handled, with increased electronic transmission, reduction in physical attendance and greater use of remote hearings, virtual hearings and the introduction of remote jury centres.

“Scotland’s courts are an essential public service and are open for business. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions we have put stringent measures in place to enable them to operate in a safe manner, protecting the health of our staff, judiciary and court users.

“While there are encouraging signs that our new way of working is allowing us to return to normal operating levels, large backlogs of cases remain and we are working closely with the judiciary, Scottish Government, justice organisations, the legal profession and the third sector to find and implement solutions to reduce this.”

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