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Business of the High Court

1 February 02

Memorandum by Lord Justice General on guidance to assist planning and disposal of High Court business

Practitioners are urged to give their full support to measures designed to improve the operation of the High Court, following recommendations by the Glasgow High Court User Group under the chairmanship of Lord Bonomy.

The following Memorandum will come into effect on 25 February 2002.  Its proposals are based on the recommendations of the Glasgow High Court User Group under the Chairmanship of The Hon. Lord Bonomy and will apply to all High Court Diets regardless of the location in which the Court is sitting.  Representation from the Faculty of Advocates, The Law Society of Scotland, Crown Office and other interested groups were involved in, and supported, the work which led to these proposals.  While the Memorandum might seem to cover areas that will be considered as part of the current Review of the High Court, the Lord Justice General has considered that it could provide significant benefits in the effective operation of the High Court in the short term.

The Memorandum is a written guide for practitioners designed to supplement the existing statutory procedures.  It acknowledges that not all problems concerned with trial business can be fixed by statutory preliminary procedures and sets out a protocol establishing communication procedures between the Solicitor, Advocate/Solicitor, Advocate and the Crown both before and during a High Court sitting.

It is in many ways reiterating no more than the established good practice among most practitioners in the High Court who timeously advise the Crown as to who is representing an accused, contact details and the flagging up of potential problems in the case as the trial diet draws near.

The objective of the Memorandum is to set up lines of communication amongst the various professional groups who practise within the High Court whereby they can advise each other of their state of preparedness or otherwise for trial.  Its intention is to reduce the number of cases brought into court which do not proceed due to the lack of foreseeable information being passed on to the other side.  That should not only avoid you time and that of your fellow professionals and of witnesses being wasted but also reduce the trauma caused by uncertainty to victims and to families on both sides of the fence.

In addition, the improved exchange of basic information should make it possible for all involved in organising and managing High Court trial diets to plan them with a view to making better use of judicial resources.

In welcoming the Memorandum, Norman Dowie, Deputy Principal Clerk of Justiciary, said that he was optimistic that it would lead to an improvement in management of High Court trial diets, and urged practitioners to give it their full support, since the success of measures such as this depends upon the full co-operation of practitioners.

Lord Culle

Lord Justice General