There will be a change in responsibility for intimation of defence petitions to recover sensitive records in sheriff court criminal proceedings from Monday 12 October 2020.

The majority of such petitions are lodged by the defence who will not have the witness’ address disclosed to them and are therefore unable to serve the petition. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and police officers are currently responsible for service of petitions on witnesses in the sheriff court.

However, as of 12 October 2020 the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) will assume the responsibility for serving the petition upon witnesses whose records are being sought in sheriff court cases (a similar arrangement was introduced at the High Court in June 2018).

Defence agents should lodge applications with the relevant sheriff court from 12 October. If defence agents contact COPFS in individual cases on or after 12 October, COPFS staff will advise them that police officers are no longer responsible for serving petitions on witnesses and will refer them to the Sheriff Clerk.

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