A virtual conference on how civil court business in Scotland might be conducted after the COVID-19 pandemic is to be held in May.

It comes at the initiative of the Lord President, Lord Carloway, who has asked the Judicial Institute for Scotland, which organises the training of Scottish judges, to organise the event. It aims to provide a forum for a discussion amongst interested parties about how Court of Session and sheriff court civil business might be conducted once the pandemic is over and once courts do not require to operate amidst physical distancing restrictions.

COVID-19 has forced significant changes on the justice system, particularly involving an increasing use of virtual technology, both video and telephone, with courts being equipped to conduct virtual hearings. Judges and practitioners have by and large engaged with these innovations.

The conference will provide an opportunity for those attending to exchange their experiences and evaluations of virtual and digital processes, and to identify which have proved to be effective and efficient and which would be worth retaining once the pandemic is controlled.

An all-day event scheduled for Monday 10 May, it will feature presentations by Scottish judicial office holders, members of Faculty and solicitors.

There will also be contributions from Professor Richard Susskind OBE, who, amongst other roles, has been IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales since 1998, and Lord Justice Flaux, appointed Chancellor of the High Court in February this year.

The Lord President is interested in hearing views from all relevant parties, including the media and members of the public, and general attendance is welcomed on the day. 

More details of the arrangements for the conference will be issued shortly. After the conference, a report will be issued on the key issues addressed.