Courts and tribunals buildings in Scotland will begin to reopen next week as part of phase 1 of the Scottish Government COVID-19 routemap, Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service has announced.

SCTS plans to gradually reintroduce a small number of staff and judiciary to buildings currently closed. For the next few weeks, those buildings will remain closed to all others except those with permanent office locations within the premises. It said progress would be "incremental" as it increases the scope of business and services within the framework of a socially distanced environment and with strict hygiene measures in place.  

The 10 hub sheriff courts will continue to operate, joined by a further five hub sheriff courts at Livingston, Kirkcaldy, Greenock, Dumbarton and Airdrie from Wednesday 3 June to deal with custodies and help reduce court sitting times. The remainder of the sheriff courts, on opening, will initially focus on the backlog of work that has accrued due to the coronavirus lockdown.

For Office of the Public Guardian and tribunals buildings, a similar phased approach is being taken with staff in small numbers coming into buildings over the next few weeks. There is no public access to any of these buildings at this time.

SCTS chief executive Eric McQueen said: "Given the changing position on the easing of lockdown measures, our priority is to ensure a safe and managed return of staff and judiciary to our buildings. This will be supported by a move to conducting more business online where it is appropriate to do so. The last few months have shown our capacity and appetite for change. The next will require that same commitment from everyone involved as we test and progress our recovery arrangements.

"Over the next few days we will share further plans on reopening and resuming summary criminal business and civil business. As we concentrate on managing the backlog of work there will be no hearings taking place nor public access to our buildings in these initial weeks.

"From next week we will take the first of a series of steps which will continue for the duration of the routemap phases."