Jury trials are to re-start using remote jury centres, following a successful pilot of the model created by the Restarting Solemn Trials Working Group led by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian.

Stuart Munro, vice-convener of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee and member of the working group, said: “This is a very positive outcome and provides a practical solution to allow long-delayed jury trials to get underway again. Throughout this process the Law Society, alongside colleagues in the Faculty of Advocates, has consistently expressed the concerns of the legal profession about the introduction of any changes which would seek to exclude the role of a jury in trials for the most serious of crimes. Today’s announcement shows the kind of innovative and practical solutions which can be developed when everyone involved gets around the same, virtual, table to discuss the challenges and options. We hope to see this same approach taken in addressing the other challenges presented by working during the pandemic within the criminal justice system.”

From the very start of lockdown, the Law Society of Scotland has been working with the Faculty of Advocates to promote and support the resumption of court business in a safe and effective way. That important work continues as the Society has sought to represent the views of our members and the clients they represent while recognising the very challenging circumstances presented to the courts by the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have consistently opposed any move to judge-only trials in serious criminal cases. We were clear from the outset that there were a number of other options for safely convening juries which needed to be explored before such a fundamental change ot the Scottish criminal justice system was considered. Indeed our submission to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee in May highlighted the potential use of other estate such as cinemas, which we are delighted now to see becoming the reality as a practical alternative to using the existing court estate.

Criminal law

Our responses to consultations in the area of criminal law.