Consistency across Sheriffdoms is important to provide a clear understanding of what civil business will be heard during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Law Society of Scotland has told the courts service.
Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “News from the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service this morning that weekly court rolls are re-commencing for some business in the Court of Session is a welcome sign. It is a positive response to the concerns we have raised on behalf of our members, and those which members of the legal profession have raised directly.
“However, there is still more which needs to be done to address concerns our members have about ensuring their clients have access to justice throughout this ongoing public health crisis. In particular it is important to address the recurring concern raised by members about the inconsistent approach being taken to date in the various Sheriff Courts and the Court of Session as to what and how business will be dealt with.
“That is why I reached out to the Chief Executive of SCTS last weekend to follow up on discussions colleagues at the Society had already been having. I wanted to emphasise the impact of delays in civil business, not just for our members, but for the families, vulnerable individuals, and businesses that they represent. I am pleased that as a result we were invited to comment on the SCTS priorities for civil business, and I would like to thank the members of our Civil Justice Committee, Board and Council who have all contributed their views on that this week.
“I have now written to the Chief Executive of SCTS to indicate our support for their existing priorities, and to ask for more information about what is realistic to expect the current court resources to be able to support during this time. This will allow us to gather more detailed feedback on the additional priority areas we think should be focused on next towards the goal of recommencing administrative processes for as many aspects of civil business as possible using electronic submissions or audio/video conferencing facilities.
“We are also engaged in ongoing discussions with SCTS regarding Commissary business, particularly in light of the Lord President’s direction issued on 9 April. We look forward to further discussions with SCTS to refine these priorities and to find safe, practical solutions for the benefit of everyone involved.”