The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the Scottish justice system to restrict the amount of business entering the courts to comply with public health guidance to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Due to the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, the growth rate of the virus and the enforcement of local lockdowns, the guidelines around attending legal proceedings are likely to change. The rules vary for each Sheriff court so when attending a court hearing, local guidance should be checked upon and complied with.
Court hearings are currently being held remotely where possible through digital means or telephone conferencing facilities. If a virtual appearance is required, the same guidance as issued in court should be followed. As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, remote hearings reduce the use of public travel services, cuts out commute time and makes social distancing easier to comply with. The courts are now also allowing for non-essential business to be carried out remotely, such as appeals.
Depending on local guidance, if you are invited to a physical hearing, additional bystanders will not be allowed in order minimise numbers and enable social distancing to take place, however, journalists are now welcome to attend. If a local lockdown is enforced, the Sheriffs Court may adjourn the physical hearing or conduct it remotely. When attending the court, you will be required to wear a face-covering in public areas, however, this is not necessary during the court hearing.
According to schedule 4 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, documents handled during the preparation stage and the court hearing process should be handled digitally where possible. The PDF format of the document should be used which should be limited by file size and emailed using the correct naming convention - case name – case reference number – nature of document (e.g. A Smith v B Jones – A900-20 – Defences).
There are extra hygiene measures in place for those attending court hearings and social distancing measures to help you stay safe while attending your court hearing. If any of the following applies to you, seek advice from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service for alternative arrangements to be made as you should not physically attend court.
Upon arrival, you may be asked to conduct a ‘hands-off’ bag inspection which requires you to empty the contents of your bag for inspection, reducing direct contact with security guards.
Guidelines concerning attending personal insolvency hearings are under constant scrutiny and reviewed regularly as Scotland transitions out of the lockdown. If you are unsure as to whether you should attend court hearings during the pandemic, further guidance as a response to coronavirus can be found here: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/coronavirus-orders-and-guidance.
Scotland Debt Solutions is made up of a team of highly experienced, licensed insolvency practitioners operating from a network of offices across Scotland. We offer a free same-day consultation service to give you the knowledge you need to tackle debt and start the recovery process. Contact the Scotland Debt Solutions team for more information on personal insolvency measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
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