First virtual court hearing in Scotland takes place

The first virtual hearing in Scotland held as a result of the coronavirus emergency took place yesterday.

The 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 counsel.

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.”

Counsel for Ms Dugdale, Roddy Dunlop QC said: “Both personally and in my capacity as Vice Dean, I would pay tribute to 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.”

Counsel for Mr Campbell, Craig Sandison QC 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.”

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