COVID-19 Stakeholder Update

 

Our staff are working remotely.  Enquiries can be made and applications can continue to be lodged at ASNTribunal@scotcourtstribunals.gov.uk

Remote Hearings

At the end of October I undertook a review of our remote hearings process, taking into account latest public health advice.  On 2 November the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care gave an update to the Scottish Parliament stating that, in spite of case numbers having fallen from the early September peak, they have levelled off at a higher level than before at around 2,500 a day.  He added that, as we enter the winter period, the situation remains precarious and we need to redouble our efforts to adhere to the protective measures.  With this in mind, I have decided that it is necessary to maintain the default position of remote hearings until the end of January 2022, when I will conduct a further review.  My guidance on remote hearings can be found here: 

Remote Hearings and the COVID-19 Outbreak

Legal members will consider which type of hearing (video conference, telephone or physical) is suitable during their pre-hearing judicial case management and parties can expect to be asked for their views on this at the case management call.  My guidance on case management calls can be found here:

PGN 06 2018 Case Management Calls

I have now issued a full suite of guidance on the child in our proceedings and these can be found here:

Suite of Guidance on the Child

This includes guidance on The Child and the Hearing (PGN 02/2019).  From this you will see that I have instructed that the usual processes of hearing witness evidence using techniques of examination-in-chief and cross-examination shall not apply to a child witness.

Documentary Evidence Guidance

As a result of the pandemic no physical bundle will be created.  The tribunal and parties will work with an electronic bundle. 

The requirements set out in paragraphs 21 to 33 of the PGN 01/2019 ‘Documentary Evidence’ are suspended.  This removes the requirement for the respondent/responsible body to prepare the bundle (electronic or hard copy).  The guidance still remains in place with regard to duplication and the relevance of documents – including considering whether a partial document should be lodged (where the full document is in excess of 10 pages).  At the moment our caseworkers will endeavour to remove duplicated documents but it will assist them greatly if parties thoughtfully prepare their productions.

Provision for a case to be decided by the legal member without a hearing

There is provision in our rules to allow a case to be decided by the legal member (rules 37 (references) and 83 (claims)) without a hearing.  Should parties wish to proceed on this basis they should request a case conference call.  The list of circumstances in which a reference or claim may be decided without a hearing are listed in rule 37(2) (references) and rule 83(2) (claims).  Most of these reasons are particular and will only apply to certain situations. 

There is a more general reason in the list: in rule 37(2)(d) (references) and rule 83(2)(d) (claims) which is where both parties agree to dispense with a hearing.

Where the legal member decides that no hearing is to take place, the case will be decided on the basis of the key documents lodged (reference/claim form and case statements) as well as any written evidence submitted (rule 37(3) (references) and rule 83(3) (claims)). 

May Dunsmuir
President
Health and Education Chamber

Chamber