The 9 courts prescribed in the Regulations were selected by application of a formula. The 15 sheriff courts with the lowest throughput of persons called to court were identified from published 1996 statistics. Those which were less than 40 miles from the nearest neighbouring court were identified and excluded. Those which could only be reached by a sea crossing were included. This left the 9 courts. The formula has now been reapplied to the Sheriff Court statistics for 1998-99 on the number of accused appearing in each sheriff court. The sheriff courts of Wick and Fort William will therefore be added to the list as well as Dunoon sheriff court where presently only the annexe at Lochgilphead attracts the extra fee. I intend to lay the amending Regulations as soon as possible after Parliament reconvenes.
I intend an annual review of the list once the previous year’s figures are available, but in order to maintain stability, if a court is added to the list, it will remain on the list for at least 3 years, even though the annual review might suggest its removal.