Court System (Backlog of Cases)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 24th June 2020.

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The First Minister:

With the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, we will keep all those options under review. I agree with James Kelly that the backlog has to be cleared as soon as possible, for all the reasons that he cites. It is not in the interests of justice, of those who are accused of crime or of victims for there to be delays.

At the outset of the pandemic, when the first piece of coronavirus legislation was being put through, Parliament legitimately had a discussion about initial proposals that the Scottish Government made—which we then withdrew—to have solemn trials without juries. To be fair, I think that Parliament was right about that but, at the time, Humza Yousaf made clear that not taking that approach would have an implication later on. We are having to manage all that. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, has been chairing a judicially led working group that is looking at how we take forward High Court jury trials and clear the backlog. We need to continue that work and make sure that, as we go along, all the different options, such as those that James Kelly cited, are kept under review.