The Court of Session summer vacation will become a thing of the past after next year, as a result of a new direction issued today by the Lord President.
Direction no 1 of 2016, which sets out the sitting days for the Legal Years 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 effectively abolishes the traditional three court terms of the legal year from 2017-18, by providing that the court is able to sit throughout the year, apart from two fortnight vacation periods at Christmas and Easter. The court would continue to be "in session" throughout the legal year, subject to vacation periods.
Although the winter term will not change, run from the beginning of the legal year in late September until the Christmas vacation fortnight, the four week period of recess between terms at Easter will become a court vacation and be shortened to two weeks, while the summer term will run from after Easter until the Friday before the beginning of the following legal year. The summer recess would no longer exist.
The change aligns the practice in the Court of Session generally with the existing practice in courts such as the Commercial Division, as well as the criminal courts. It will allow greater flexibility in programming the work of the courts over the legal year.