The Scottish courts should still be able to process personal injury cases, most of which settle without proof, according to two solicitors specialising in the field.
Writing in the Scotsman, Brenda Mitchell and Jodi Gordon of Road Traffic Accident Law (Scotland) criticise Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) for "shutting up shop" since 25 March, except for essential emergency business, when lawyers and insurers, after a week of adjusting, have "continued to progress cases with a little ingenuity and a great deal of mutual respect".
On Friday SCTS announced that appeal hearings in the Court of Session will restart this week, operating as a virtual court, and procedural business in the Outer House will begin to be dealt with by written submissions or conference calls. However the two solicitors believe faster progress should be made.
"Civil court hearings for personal injury actions scheduled for proof between March and June were discharged across the board despite the fact that over 98% of personal injury actions raised in court settle without going to proof", they state.
"If the legal profession and the insurance industry could adapt so quickly to remote working, what prevents SCTS from doing likewise? We can conduct procedural hearings by telephone conference. We can submit written submissions as an alternative and judges and sheriffs can still request reports from pursuers and defenders’ agents via email regarding progress towards settlement in cases set down for proof."
With many clients having suffered life-altering injuries, they call for SCTS to reopen for business and ensure cases are progressed by alternative means.