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Updates to Amalgamated Briefing Paper on Restarting Solemn Trials


Dec 10, 2020

Practitioners may wish to note that the Judicial Institute Briefing Paper on Restarting Solemn Trials has been updated.


The Judicial Institute published its Amalgamated Briefing Paper on Restarting Solemn Trials on 13 November 2020. Please see this news item for background.

The updated Briefing Paper can be found here on the Judiciary of Scotland website within Judicial Institute Publications. The updates made are noted below.

In Chapter 1 under the heading “Procedures”:

Practitioners will now find a link to the new walk-through videos which have been developed for jurors, witnesses and practitioners and which explain the set-up at the Remote Jury Centre and court room. These can be found on the SCTS website by clicking on the following link and scrolling down to view the videos: “Participating in jury trials in Scotland: advice during coronavirus”.

In Chapter 1 under the heading “Issues specific to the restart of Sheriff and Jury trials” and the sub-heading “Maintaining physical distancing”:

Practitioners are reminded that, although it is understood that courts to be used for jury trials have been risk assessed, seating has been arranged appropriately and, for some purposes (eg examination of witnesses) the floor of the court has been marked and a lectern provided, practitioners should continue to take personal responsibility for their own social distancing.

In Chapter 2, under the new heading “Written Directions in the Sheriff Court”:

For the avoidance of doubt, it is highlighted that solemn trials in the sheriff court will include adoption of the new process of providing written directions. A reminder that these Written Directions are set out at Appendix G.

In Chapter 4, under the new heading “How do solicitors and counsel communicate?”:

Guidance is provided on the use of texting as an alternative means of contact between parties during trials. The requirement for physical distancing in court will mean that it will most likely not be possible for counsel (possibly senior and junior) and their instructing solicitor to sit within whispering distance of one another in the well of the court. This issue will also affect the sheriff court if counsel is instructed

Appendix H now includes:

Information on the SCTS approach where a COVID “incidentarises, in other words, where a participant reports suffering symptoms of COVID-19 during a trial.