Virtual sheriff court hearings to be trialled

A case at Inverness Sheriff Court is being used to test virtual court hearings at Scotland’s Sheriff courts.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 4:00 pm
Inverness Sheriff Court, which is within Inverness Castle, is being used to test virtual court hearings. Photo: G Laird, geograph.org.uk

Taking place tomorrow (Tuesday), the parties involved in the case will appear before Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle in a virtual courtroom.

Since lockdown began, video links have been used to conduct hearings involving prisoners in custody, but this will be the first time a full case will be heard via the courts’ new video platform.

A Scottish Courts spokesperson said: “Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on court business, with urgent and essential business being prioritised within the government’s current lockdown arrangements.

“With these restrictions in place, we have been working hard with sheriffs principal and the Law Society of Scotland to extend the services we can offer, as well as planning on how we safely move into the next phase as soon as the lockdown restrictions ease.

“With social distancing likely to remain in place for some time, we need to make the best use of technology to enable cases to proceed as safely and as quickly as possible.  

“Virtual courts were successfully introduced in the Court of Session Inner House at the end of April and will shortly be extended to the Outer House, replacing the current telephone hearings.” 

Sheriff Principal Pyle added: “In these unprecedented times, it is remarkable how quickly the courts, judiciary and legal profession have grasped the nettle of technology to find solutions.

“There is still a long way to go, but the hearing this week is another step along a road which, over the coming months should revolutionise the way in which sheriff court civil proceedings are conducted.”