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Restarting Jury Trials: Information for Practitioners


Aug 11, 2020

The Judicial Institute for Scotland has published a new resource to aid practitioners appearing or instructing in solemn trials in the High Court from July 2020.


‘Restarting Jury Trials: Information for Practitioners’ is based in large part on a briefing paper which was initially drawn up to support those judges who were due to conduct the first tranche of solemn High Court trials commencing on 20 and 21 July. It has now been revised to reflect lessons learned from both those trials, and a series of previous mock trials. It also incorporates related developments.

The resource is split into five parts.

Part 1 deals with COVID considerations including juror citations and an overview of the two solemn trial models currently in operation.

Part 2 deals with the new jury directions. In solemn trials in the future, new procedures will be in place:

  • to provide the jury at the outset with a written document advising them of their duties and responsibilities
  • to give the jury, before any evidence is led, oral directions on the general principles applying to all solemn trials and, in some cases, directions on matters relevant to the particular trial
  • to give the jury those directions in written form, once more before any evidence is led.

These procedures have been adopted during the course of the solemn trials taking place from July 2020 onwards.

Part 3 provides a broad picture of how a COVID affected trial will proceed with the new jury procedures also in place.

Part 4 describes the new trial procedures in greater detail, highlighting the differences in the models deployed in the High Court in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, while Part 5 describes the lessons learned from the mock trial using the Glasgow Model.

See the resource which is available on this website page.

Please note that there is every likelihood that the circumstances in which solemn trials take place will develop over the next few months, in which case this paper can be seen as a bespoke, unique paper intended to address only this moment in time.

The Judicial Institute for Scotland will keep this resource up to date as changes arise. 

11 August 2020