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Modernisation of Summary Criminal Justice in Scotland 20/09/2017 The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has published a further report on possible modernisation of summary criminal justice in Scotland.

Modernisation of Summary Criminal Justice in Scotland

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has published a further report on possible modernisation of summary criminal justice in Scotland. It follows proposals put forward in February, and a series of public roadshows to discuss the ideas.

The core proposals in the model are:

  • Pre-trial procedures should take place as part of a digital case management process. Court hearings are only held to address unresolved issues with strong judicial case oversight to focus the trial on those areas of dispute.
  • There is no automatic setting of an intermediate diet and trial diet on a not guilty plea and witnesses are cited only where a trial diet is ready and likely to proceed.
  • Where a witness is cited, a digital update system keeps the witness informed and minimises inconvenience where possible.
  • In appropriate cases where guilty pleas are tendered, sentencing could be conducted digitally without the need for the appearance of the accused in court.

“The proposals put forward in our earlier report were radical in promoting wider use of digital technology, supported by strong case management and clear timescales. Through the public roadshows there has been good debate and a wide range of views expressed which set out the opportunities and challenges. These are captured in the report published today – “Follow Up Report to the New Model for Summary Criminal Court Procedure”,” said SCTS Chief Executive, Eric McQueen.

“Taking all of those views into account, the cross - justice working group who developed the proposals is of the opinion that, with appropriate amendment of the original proposals, there is scope to develop the model for potential legislation and implementation,” he added. “This will include further consideration of the financial as well as procedural implications of moving towards a more digitally enabled system. On behalf of the Justice Board, SCTS will be seeking the support of Scottish Government to consider wider public consultation to help shape future legislation change.”

The SCTS plans to start the journey early next year by testing out some of the ideas and principles. These are likely to include the development and piloting of a practice note for Summary Criminal Cases, introducing strong judicial case management, encouraging earlier engagement between parties to identify those matters in dispute in the case and potentially only fixing trial diets when prosecution and defence are sufficiently prepared and the issues requiring proof have been properly focused.

The report can be found here.

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