The first virtual court hearing in Scotland under arrangements made in response to the coronavirus shutdown was successfully completed today.
Lord President Carloway, Lord Menzies and Lord Brodie heard the appeal by Stuart Campbell against the rejection by a sheriff of his claim against Kezia Dugdale for damages for defamation. The judges, the clerk of court and counsel representing the parties were all virtually linked in from separate physical locations.
Both national and freelance media accessed the hearing, providing social media updates throughout.
Afterwards Lord Carloway commented: "The technology worked well from the court’s perspective and the hearing captured the ambience of a physical courtroom. I would like to thank the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service IT team for their work behind the scenes which enabled today’s hearing to take place. The judiciary fully support the promotion of virtual cases where it is technologically possible and appropriate in the current situation."
Craig Sandison QC, representing Mr Campbell, added: "I was delighted to be able to appear virtually at this hearing, which is an important step towards restoring some approximation of normality to the operation of the judicial system in Scotland. After a few minutes the cut and thrust of the argument took over from the unusual situation and it became really very like an ordinary hearing."
The court reserved judgment and will provide a written opinion at a later date.
Three further Inner House appeal hearings are scheduled to be conducted in the same way this week.