Dispute Resolution

In common with many other lawyers across the world, working from home has now become the new norm. Our Dispute Resolution practice has been involved in advising clients on a range of topics relating to COVID-19, including contract law and force majeure clauses and where businesses stand in relation to business interruption insurance.

One question clients continue to ask is how the courts are dealing with new and existing cases, and what effect this may have on them. The justice system has been designated an essential service, and to this end, the courts remain open, although all non-urgent business has been adjourned. Here is an outline of how the courts are adapting:

Hub Courts

A number of the smaller sheriff courts have closed for the time being and business has been transferred to ‘hub’ courts. Notably, Scotland’s first purpose-built Justice Centre opened today in Inverness, and immediately starts functioning as a hub for that area. We have listed below which courts are operating as hubs, and which other courts they now serve:

● Aberdeen Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Peterhead, Banff and Lerwick
● Dumfries Sheriff and JP Court: taking in business transferring from Stranraer
● Dundee Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Forfar and Perth
● Edinburgh Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Livingston, Selkirk & Jedburgh
● Falkirk Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Stirling, Alloa, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy
● Glasgow Sheriff and JP Court: not taking in any new courts
● Hamilton Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Airdrie, Lanark and Ayr
● Inverness Justice Centre: taking in Elgin, Fort William, Tain, Wick and island courts -except Lerwick
● Kilmarnock Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Dunoon, Oban and Campbeltown
● Paisley Sheriff and JP Court: taking in Greenock and Dumbarton

Urgent business

The hub sheriff courts and Court of Session remain open in that they are dealing with all essential business, including petitions and applications for interim interdict. The Court of Session will also deal with other types of business should the Court be satisfied of its urgent nature.

Lodging and signing of documents

Many documents for the sheriff courts, Court of Session, All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court, Scottish Appeal Court and Lands Tribunal for Scotland can be lodged electronically, and should a signature be required, such documents can be electronically signed.

Mary Ellen Stewart