Coronavirus Courts Update What court cases are going ahead? Sheriff Courts On 25th March 2020, all civil cases were put on hold apart from cases which are urgent and necessary. The courts have produced a list of the types of cases which it has decided are urgent and necessary. The full list can be found here. This means cases which had already started won’t be carrying on just now, and new cases can’t be started, unless they are urgent and necessary. As of 29th April 2020, some additional cases may also be dealt with in the Sheriff Courts. These are any cases which were sisted (paused) or administratively adjourned in ordinary, family or commercial courts, Adults with Incapacity applications and corporate insolvency proceedings. In these types of cases, a party can apply to the court for the case to be restarted. However, the court will only restart a case where: (1) there is a good reason for doing so; (2) the case can be progressed remotely; and (3) there is no need for a hearing which involves the leading of evidence. An overview of the updated situation as of 29th April can be found here. The list and 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/ Sheriff Court Civil Priorities Urgent and necessary cases most likely to be relevant to children and young people: Sheriff Court applications/motions relating to the care and protection of children, such as: child protection orders or child assessment orders permanence order applications where an urgent interim order is sought urgent applications in relation to parental responsibilities and rights, for example in relation to contact or residence proceedings under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, such as urgent appeals against a decision of a children’s hearing or applications relating to interim compulsory supervision orders Urgent Sheriff Court applications or motions: for interim interdicts for interim antisocial behaviour orders Each of the Sheriff Courts have produced extra guidance on how they are dealing with cases just now. You can find the court you are looking for here. The Court of Session The Court of Session is giving priority to essential civil business. The Inner House is working as an online court for any appeal hearings taking place currently. Procedural business in the Outer House is going ahead by telephone hearing or written submissions. Civil Court Priorities in the Court of Session include: Child abduction petitions Applications for interim interdict Caveats Imminent time-bar cases Other urgent matters on cause shown Further information about upcoming appeals and updated Guidance Notes for Practitioners can be found here. On 11th May 2020, the Court of Session issued updated Guidance for Practitioners for the period 11th May to 1st 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 grounds are established, there will not be any procedural hearings or a hearing with evidence (called a proof) for a while. Most of these cases have been put on hold until at least around mid-June. The situation will probably be reviewed at this point. 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 now being dealt with by the reporter and other parties by email. Court hearings are not taking place for these. 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. However, the court will only deal with an appeal just now if it is urgent. If you need help with an urgent 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? It is unlikely that this is something which will go ahead just now, unless the local authority is also trying to get some sort of urgent interim order. There would need to be something extra which makes it urgent that action is taken now rather than waiting until things have gone back to normal. For example, something might need to be done now to protect you or your rights. 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 - this is one of the types of cases which the court has decided is urgent and necessary. 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. Again, these types of cases will not be going ahead unless there is something about them which makes them urgent. They might also go ahead if one party applies to have the case restarted, but it will only be restarted where it can be progressed remotely and no hearings with evidence are needed. 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? Contact and residence cases are one of the types of case which the court might think is urgent and necessary. 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 April 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.