SCTS Chief Executive speaks to the Justice Committee

May 19, 2020

The SCTS Chief Executive Eric McQueen told the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee today that trials will recommence in Scotland as soon as it is practical and safe to do so.

He said: “It is for the Lord President to determine when jury trials can resume.  In making that decision he must have the assurances from justice agencies, the legal profession and victims and witnesses representatives, that trials can safely proceed and conclude.

“The place for those assurances to be developed is within the short-term working group on jury trials chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, and with all the necessary representatives involved, including Public Health Scotland. That group will make recommendations for the safe commencement of jury trials in Scotland as quickly as possible.

“At this time Scotland remains in lockdown but I can assure the Justice Committee that everyone is working incredibly hard to restart the jury trial process. This must be about assurances that jury trials that can proceed safely during the ongoing Coronavirus situation, not about a date for recommencing. Those are the same assurances any potential juror or witness will require before coming to court this summer.“

Addressing the Justice Committee on the matter of trial backlogs, Eric McQueen said:

 “We are doing everything we can to get jury trials up and running again.  That is our priority.  But it is necessary to state that, in my view, reducing our capacity to hold jury trials by two-thirds of our capacity to bring social distancing measures into place will seriously impact on the courts’ ability to significantly reduce the trials backlog. By August the backlog we are facing could be 1800 trial cases.

“The backlog will remain with us until social distancing requirements are removed. The Parliament has previously said judge-only trials are not acceptable but I believe that option should remain on the table in the event that significant backlogs cannot be reduced by any other means.” 

Notes for Editors

Short Term Jury Trials Working Group -



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