Coronavirus Courts Update What court cases are going ahead? Sheriff Courts On 25th March 2020, all civil cases were put on hold apart from urgent and necessary cases. However, things have moved on since then and the courts are now in 'Phase 2' of the route map out of lockdown. All cases which were put on hold are now starting to progress again. These cases are being case managed to decide how they are to progress. Procedural hearings and substantive hearings which don't require evidence are going ahead remotely. This means that it is no longer possible or necessary to make a Civil Restart Application for a case which was put on hold due to Coronavirus. It is not likely that there will be any evidential hearings (proofs) during this time. However, if there are cases which do need evidence and the hearing can't be held remotely, witnesses may have to attend court with strict social distancing arrangements. The courts are now also processing most types of new non-urgent cases. The only non-urgent cases they are not processing are simple procedure cases and some eviction actions. It is no longer possible to submit new urgent and necessary cases to the Hub courts. All new civil actions are to be sent to the court which has jurisdiction. 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. An overview of the updated situation as of July 2020 can be found under the heading 'Phase 2' here. 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 Urgent matters are being prioritised in the Court of Session, although non-urgent business is also being progressed. The Court has advised that non-urgent matters will take longer than usual to be progressed due to reduced staff. The Inner House is working 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. Procedural business in the Outer House is going ahead by telephone hearing or written submissions, although a telephone hearing is the preferred approach. Civil jury trials are not running, but other substantive hearings may go ahead by video conference where appropriate. Whether or not video conferencing is suitable will be considered on a case by case basis. Any cases which have substantive hearings fixed will be case managed by a specific judge. A weekly Court Roll is now being published on the SCTS website, which you can see here. The Court of Session published an updated Guidance Note for Practitioners on 22nd June 2020. Common Case Types 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. What will happen with this? If you are waiting for a sheriff to decide whether or not grounds are established, this will have been put on hold at the beginning of lockdown. These cases are now starting to progress again. Some procedural hearings are happening by telephone, or in some cases 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), but this probably won't happen for a while yet. 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 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? Permanence proceedings were mostly put on hold at the start of lockdown, although some hearings might have taken place if there was something urgent which had to be dealt with. 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. However, there is a large backlog of cases from the last few months which the courts have to deal with. This means that cases like these might not move for a while, unless there is something about the case which makes it urgent. If the case is urgent, it will be prioritised by the court. 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. However, there is a large backlog of cases from the last few months which the courts have to deal with. This means that cases like these might not move for a while, unless there is something about the case which makes it urgent. If the case is urgent, it will be prioritised by the court. 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 July 2020 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.