Over the course of the last few months the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service has been rolling out and testing its WebEx platform, used to conduct virtual court hearings. The capability is already used in the Court of Session, Sheriff Appeal Court, Personal Injury Court (ASSPIC) and increasingly for tribunal hearings, including the Upper Tribunal.
As of Monday 23rd November, all of Scotland’s Sheriff civil courts will be able to conduct proofs, debates, evidential and Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) hearings virtually using the WebEx video platform where appropriate.
We had previously reported on the first virtual hearing which took place in May at Inverness Sheriff Court. Further pilot hearings including proofs, debates and FAIs have also taken place with input from the judiciary, SCTS staff and legal practitioners to test and develop the WebEx procedures and guidance.
Sheriff Principal Anwar, South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, said:
“Following the success of Sheriff Principal Stephen’s use of WebEx for virtual hearings in ASSPIC and the Sheriff Appeal Court, and Sheriff Principal Pyle’s use of WebEx for fatal accident inquiries, the Sheriffs Principal have worked closely with the digital teams and SCTS staff to manage the roll-out of virtual hearings throughout the sheriff courts in Scotland. Civil practitioners and Sheriffs have readily embraced the pilot exercises which have allowed us all to learn what works best and how to refine digital hearings.”
Whilst Civil business has continued throughout the pandemic, much of it has been at a slower pace. We therefore welcome the use of virtual hearings on a wider scale which should extend the opportunities for cases to progress and for complex cases to be heard where evidence is required to be presented to court.