Guidance has been issued by the Scottish Courts service.
The present situation has had a significant impact on the usual operation of the Scottish Courts system. Although being classed as an essential public service, only essential business will take place.
Court of Session
In the Court of Session, essential business means actions such as:-
- Child Abduction Petitions;
- Interim Interdicts; and
- Any other urgent matters with cause shown to justify their urgency.
All other non-essential business has been deferred, with hearings such as Proofs being postponed until at least after the end of April. Some procedural hearings are going ahead, and are being dealt with by way of written submissions, or video or telephone conference calling, but the facility for this seems limited.
Whilst there is no specific guidance in relation to commercial actions, they will also subject to the same restrictions as above.
The Sheriff Courts have taken a similar approach and have adjourned or continued all court business except emergency civil applications. The Sheriff Courts have classified such urgent business as including:-
- New applications for child protection orders;
- Interim interdicts;
- Child referral appeals;
- Urgent adoptions or urgent interim resistance or contact applications;
- Caveats; and
- Urgent applications in relation to adults with incapacity.
This urgent business has also have been consolidated within the Sheriffdoms, meaning business will only take place at the following 10 Sheriff Courts:- Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Falkirk, inverness, Aberdeen, Paisley, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Dumfries. (Further details on www.scotcourts.gov.uk)
Again, there is no specific guidance for commercial actions in the Sheriff Court, but the above considerations will apply in dealing with any urgent business. All ongoing non-urgent commercial actions in Edinburgh Sheriff Court have been suspended until 19th June 2020, or until the Court returns to normal business.
Sheriff Appeal Court
All business in the Sheriff Appeal Court even if administrative has been suspended for 12 weeks with the same urgent business exception.
Lands Tribunal for Scotland and Scottish Land Court
Neither the LTS or the SLC have facilities for video or audio conferencing to deal with hearings. No hearings of any kind are taking place while the restrictions are in place. This includes Telecommunication Code Applications which required to be dealt with within six months as it is anticipated that legislation will extend this period.
The initial wave of court cancellations and postponements is due to last for a three week period, but, as with other matters, that seems likely to be extended.
However, what is clear from the guidance issued, is that the Scottish Courts system is attempting to deal with as much business as possible via electronic means.
This is a very fluid situation and this current guidance will likely be altered or extended. We will continue to post updates to the situation as and when we are made aware.
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