First virtual court hearing in Scotland

The first virtual court hearing in Scotland in response to the coronavirus situation was successfully held today.

The Court of Session Inner House appeal, Stuart Campbell v Kezia Dugdale, was heard before the Lord President, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lord Brodie. The other participants were the clerk of court and the counsel representing the parties. All of the attendees were virtually linked in from separate physical locations. 

Both national and freelance media accessed the hearing, providing social media updates throughout the proceedings.

Lord Carloway said: “The technology worked well from the Court’s perspective and the hearing captured the ambience of a physical courtroom. I would like to thank the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service IT team for their work behind the scenes which enabled today’s hearing to take place. The judiciary fully support the promotion of virtual cases where it is technologically possible and appropriate in the current situation.”

Craig Sandison QC, representing Stuart Campbell, said: “I was delighted to be able to appear virtually at this hearing, which is an important step towards restoring some approximation of normality to the operation of the judicial system in Scotland. After a few minutes the cut and thrust of the argument took over from the unusual situation and it became really very like an ordinary hearing.”

Roddy Dunlop QC, representing Kezia Dugdale, said: "Both personally and in my capacity as Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, I would pay tribute to the SCTS for the smooth operation of this first virtual hearing. The only difficulty was at my end - when a laptop crashed - and SCTS were able to have things back up and running in minutes. In these challenging times, it is essential to keep justice moving, and it was hugely gratifying to see the way that all rose to the challenge. 

The judges will provide a ruling on the case in writing at a later date.

A list of future Court of Session Inner House appeal hearings to be conducted virtually during the coronavirus lock down are available on the Court Rolls.