Coronavirus Courts Update What court cases are going ahead? Sheriff Courts All cases within the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Courts are progressing, including simple procedure, family actions and eviction cases. The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service have issued new guidance about the way in which these cases will progress which can be seen here. This guidance will have effect from Tuesday 12 January until Friday 26 February 2021 and will be reviewed on 15 February 2021. All civil hearings, which do not require the leading of evidence will, unless otherwise directed by the court, continue to be held remotely. This means that you should not attend the Court building unless the court specifically tells you to do so. Procedural or other non-evidential hearings are mostly taking place by written submissions or by telephone call for now. Some courts can use video conferencing. This is being used for some hearings. You should be told how your case will be heard. If there are any cases which need evidence to be heard, then this should also be held remotely. Video conferencing can be used to hear evidence. Only in exceptional circumstances, where social distancing restrictions can be followed and where evidence cannot be led remotely, will the physical presence of witnesses be permitted. If you are required to attend Court you must follow all safety measures put in place against COVID-19. You can find out what you need to know about attending court during the Coronavirus pandemic here. It is mandatory to wear face coverings when moving around the court building. Updated guidance has been produced about wearing face coverings in court and can be viewed here. All new civil actions are to be sent to the court which has jurisdiction. All documents relating to new and existing cases should continue to be sent electronically. Cases which are urgent, for example urgent matters relating to children or interim interdicts, may be given priority by the court dealing with the application. Each of the Sheriff Courts have produced extra guidance on how they are dealing with cases just now. You can find the guidance for the court you are looking for here. The guidance from the courts will be subject to an ongoing review process and will be updated every so often to reflect any changes. Any updates will be posted here: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/ The Court of Session Cases are continuing to be progressed in the Court of Session. Similar guidance, to that in the Sheriff Courts, has been issued in relation to the Court of Session. This can be seen here. Like Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Courts, all civil hearings in the Court of Session, which do not require the hearing of evidence, will be held remotely, unless otherwise directed by the Court. This means that your case may be considered based on written submissions, over the telephone or by video conference, unless the Court decides otherwise. You should not attend court building unless directed by the court specifically to do so. The Inner House continues to work as an online court for appeal hearings. Substantive hearings are going ahead by video conference or by written submissions. Procedural hearings are going ahead by written submissions or by video conference if required. You can see any upcoming appeals listed in the Inner House here. Procedural business in the Outer House is going ahead by telephone hearing or written submissions. Any procedural hearings, which were cancelled administratively up to 31st July 2020 should now have been heard or re-fixed in discussion with parties. If you are required to attend Court you must follow all safety measures put in place against COVID-19. You can find out what you need to know about attending court during the Cornavirus pandemic here. It is mandatory to wear face coverings when moving around the court building. Updated guidance has been provided about wearing face coverings in court and can be viewed here. Like the Sheriff Courts, all documents for new and existing cases are to be sent to the court electronically. A weekly Court Roll is now being published on the SCTS website, which you can see here. Common Case Types Which Are Now Progressing Again The following are common case types which are now progressing again in court. If you need assistance with one of these types of cases, you can get in touch with us to speak to one of our solicitors. I have had a grounds hearing where grounds have not been accepted by me or a relevant person. The grounds have been referred to the Sheriff Court but they have not been dealt with yet. Some procedural hearings in these cases are happening by telephone, or in some cases written information is being sent to the court by email. The sheriff might decide that there needs to be a hearing with evidence (called a proof). This might take place by video conferencing, or in person if necessary and if physical distancing can happen. If you think you are involved in a case like this but you are not sure what is happening, you can get in touch with us to see if we can help you. What if I am subject to an Interim Compulsory Supervision Order (ICSO) which has to be renewed by the Sheriff? Applications to the court to renew ICSOs are still mostly being dealt with by the reporter and other parties by email. Some of these applications might now be dealt with during procedural hearings which are happening by telephone. If you are unhappy about the terms of your ICSO just now and need advice about this, you can speak to one of our solicitors. I am not happy with a recent decision of a children’s hearing. Can I still appeal? You still have the right to appeal to the Sheriff Court if you are not happy with a decision made at your children’s hearing, and so do any relevant persons. If you need help with an appeal, you can get in touch with us to see if we can help with this. I have been told that a local authority wants to start permanence proceedings about me. Will this go ahead? All permanence cases will now be progressed again by the court. There may be some procedural hearings soon where the court will decide what needs to happen next. If there is something about your case which makes it urgent, it might progress more quickly than other similar cases. The local authority has told me they intend to apply to the Sheriff Court for a Child Protection Order in relation to my child. Can they do this just now? Yes, and because this would be considered urgent it is likely to be dealt with more quickly than other cases. If this is something you are worried about, you can get in touch with us to speak to one of our solicitors. I am involved in a section 11 action (to do with parental rights and responsibilities, including contact and residence). What will happen with this? You might be involved in a section 11 action, or your parents might be. It might be to do with where you live or who you have contact with and when, or it might be about who has parental rights and responsibilities in relation to you. It might also be about contact between you and your own child or your siblings. The courts are now progressing cases like this, whether they are urgent or not. We have written a separate blog on issues with contact, which you can read here. I usually spend some time living with one parent and other time living with the other, but I am only being allowed to live with and see one parent just now. Is there anything I can do about this? All contact and residence cases are being dealt with by the courts again, although they may be dealt with more quickly if there is something which makes the case urgent. We have written a separate blog on these types of cases, which you can see here. If you need more information or advice about any of this, you can get in touch with us to speak to one of our solicitors. This is intended as a guide to the situation in January 2021 and not as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law. If you have any questions or would like further information please call 0808 129 0522 or email email@example.com.