High Court trials up by quarter on pre-Covid levels

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Almost a quarter more evidence-led High Court trials started in Scotland last month than the pre-coronavirus average.

It comes as legal officers continue work to clear the backlog built up during the pandemic.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) said 51 such cases started in March, which was 23% higher than before Covid-19 restrictions.

The SCTS said last month that the backlog of High Court trials could take until 2025 to be cleared.

Meanwhile, 64 High Court cases were concluded - which was 5% lower than before the pandemic.

The overall level of new cases registered in March was 86% of the average monthly pre-coronavirus level.

Petitions, which provide an indicator of future solemn business, were 31% higher, while evidence-led summary trials in the sheriff courts are 43% of the average monthly pre-Covid levels.

New court locations

The SCTS said the figures reflected the continued lockdown and court restrictions in place.

It was announced at the start of April that the High Court could sit at four new locations in Scotland under plans to clear a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

The proposed locations are Airdrie, Stirling, Inverness, and Dundee.

The SCTS had previously announced plans to begin a "court recovery programme" from September.

Two additional Sheriff Solemn Courts and up to 10 Sheriff Summary Courts are also being considered.

Last November it was also announced that remote jury centres for sheriff court trials were to be created in Odeon cinema complexes in Ayr, East Kilbride, Dundee and Dunfermline.

The facilities are in addition to two remote jury centres already in operation in Edinburgh and Glasgow.