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Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for those due to attend court

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is now having a significant impact on the Scottish criminal justice system. Following the government advice issued on 23 March 2020 to limit social contact we have issued the following guidelines.

Working with our justice partners, it has been agreed that the only business going through courts at this time will be essential business.  This will allow the justice system to reflect the current Scottish Government and NHS guidance on both the current Covid-19 position, the likely progression of Covid-19 and measures that we are all being asked to take to minimise infection rates.  

COPFS is working closely with justice partners and with Scottish Government on measures which will support the fair and effective administration of justice whilst respecting the public health guidance which has been issued.These arrangements will apply to all Summary, Sheriff and Jury and High Court business from Tuesday 24 March 2020.

  • All victims and witnesses should only attend court if your case is currently underway. Cases that are already in progress will run to the conclusion of the trial, if practical to do so.

  • If you are a victim or witness in a case that not already started, do not attend court and refer to the specific guidance below.

  • Some court business where members of the public are not required to attend – such as preliminary hearings and first diet courts –may still be progressed through correspondence with relevant justice partners.

  • Cases in the appeals court are expected to continue as normal
Please refer to more detailed information below.

 

If you are due to attend court as a witness or as the victim of a crime

If you are due to attend court as a witness in a trial that is already underway you will still be required and should attend court as normal.

If your trial is not already underway do not attend court. COPFS will communicate new dates for witnesses to attend court as soon as it is practically possible to do so.

We also acknowledge that the outbreak may especially impact on some vulnerable victims and witnesses, who may feel more at risk, isolated or have reduced access to sources of support. We want to reassure you that maintaining public safety is a key priority and we will continue to work closely with the police and other key partner organisations supporting victims and witnesses to ensure public safety is maintained.

If you are due to attend court as the accused

If you are due to attend court as the accused in a trial that is already underway you will still be required and should attend court as normal.

There is more detail below on arrangements depending on the type of court business you have been called to attend. Your solicitor will be able to provide you with further advice. If you are not represented by a solicitor, please contact the relevant Court.

In all instances please ensure that you inform your Solicitor if you are self-isolating, showing any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or are in any of the higher risk categories if you are contacted about attendance at court.

Released by the police on an Undertaking to attend court
  • If you have been released from Police custody on an undertaking to attend court you should observe that undertaking at the court specified unless otherwise advised.
  • If you are self-isolating, showing any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or are in any of the higher risk categories you should inform your Solicitor. If you have not instructed a Solicitor, please contact COPFS as below to confirm your position.
Summary matters
  • If you are due to attend court on a summary matter as the accused in a trial or for any procedural diet that has been set down but has not yet called in court then you are not required to attend court at this time. Your solicitor can give you further advice on this.
First Diet or Preliminary Hearings
  • If you have been served with an indictment and have either a First Diet or Preliminary Hearing set down then these will be postponed administratively. Your solicitor can give you further advice on this.
  • However, all efforts will continue to be made to liaise with your solicitor and resolve cases where possible. 
Served with a Summary Complaint
  • Where you have been served with a Summary complaint and a new diet has been set down then we will deal with this case administratively. You should continue to contact your solicitor by phone or respond to us in writing with the reply form that is attached in the letter you have received.
  • Your solicitor will be able to keep you informed and communicate what is required from you if your cases progresses without you attending court.

If you are due to attend court as a juror

If you are currently serving as a juror (in either criminal or civil cases) in any of the courts in Scotland at this time, you should continue to attend court and take any directions given from the presiding judge or sheriff about attendance.

If you have been cited to attend for jury selection do not attend.

Jurors should refer to the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website for the latest advice.   

If you need to attend court to pay a fiscal fine

Please do not attend court in person to pay your fine.
Please visit Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website for details of how to pay online.   

Information for the police

There are revised and rigorous guidelines for the police to apply in the liberation of arrested people pending further investigation or action. These can be found on the Lord Advocate's Guidelines page under the section 'Lord Advocate's Guidelines on Liberation by the Police COVID-19 or Coronavirus'. They are also being communicated directly with Police Scotland.

Information for solicitors

We have communicated information directly with solicitors. A copy of this communication is available to view and download: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and COPFS - Information for Solicitors.

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