Coronavirus Courts Update What court cases are going ahead? Sheriff Courts The courts are now in Phase 3 and all cases, including new simple procedure cases and eviction cases, are being progressed. There is still a significant backlog and the courts are still working with reduced staff, so some cases might take longer to start up again than others. If you have a case in court and you are not sure if it has started up again or not, you can call to speak to one of our solicitors about this. Most cases are going ahead remotely. No one is to attend court in person unless they have been specifically asked to. Procedural hearings are mostly taking place by written submissions or by telephone call for now. The courts are looking into how they can use video conferencing for some procedural hearings and evidential hearings (proofs). This is starting to be used for some hearings. If there are any cases which do need evidence and the hearing can't be held remotely, witnesses may have to attend court with strict social distancing arrangements. All new civil actions are to be sent to the court which has jurisdiction. All documents relating to new and existing cases are 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. An overview of the updated situation as of September 2020 can be found under the heading 'Phase 3' 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 continuing to be prioritised in the Court of Session, although non-urgent business is also being progressed. 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. 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, although a telephone hearing is the preferred approach. Any procedural hearings which were cancelled administratively up to 31st July 2020 are now being re-fixed in discussion with parties. Civil jury trials are not running. Other substantive hearings in the Outer House may go ahead by video conference, or in person where physical distancing can be accommodated. If a party feels that a hearing can't go ahead by video conferencing, they can advise the court of this with their reasons. The Lord Ordinary will then decide whether or not the hearing can go ahead by video conference. 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. The Court of Session published an updated Guidance Note for Practitioners on 22nd June 2020, which has now been revised as of 7th August 2020. 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 September 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 email@example.com.