26 January 2021

The Courts are getting there virtually


‘Working from home’ has become the norm for so many of us over the last ten months. There have been challenges along the way requiring both employers and employees to adapt. From March to June 2020, the Scottish Court system effectively shut for all but urgent business. This left civil lawyers and their clients in limbo. With no set timeframe as to when the country might return to some sense of normality, solicitors and advocates were united in a ‘call to arms.’

The call was answered in July when guidance was finally issued to allow civil court business to re-commence. Arrangements were made for Court documents to be lodged electronically. Both preliminary and final hearings were re-started using video conferencing. This massive leap forward for Courts operating during the global pandemic was welcomed by most within the profession.

In October, we conducted our first “virtual proof“ for an injured cyclist who had come off his bicycle on a segregated cycle path in St Andrews. The guidance set out by the Personal Injury Court was easy to follow. A joint bundle of productions was agreed between parties in advance and copies distributed electronically to the Court and witnesses. Preliminary business was dealt with on the Monday before we proceeded to Proof on the Tuesday, meaning no wasted time. Proof proceeded as scheduled at 10am on the Tuesday, which was almost unheard of pre-March 2020. Rather than asking witnesses to hang around, I simply texted them when it was their time to connect and enter the virtual Court.

I’ve been a civil court litigator for 10 years and it’s astonishing the number of hours I have spent waiting for a Court hearing to start; waiting for a sheriff to be allocated; chasing down witnesses that weren’t where I had left them; placating irate expert witnesses when you had to tell them the case is running late due to the Sheriff having preliminary business; or even worse, having to tell your expert witness, patiently waiting, to come back again tomorrow! On so many occasions, I wanted to scream that it wasn’t my fault - it’s just the way the court system works. It rarely runs like clock-work. With virtual hearings in place, those wasted days could finally be a thing of the past!

In every Personal Injury case, there’s at least one medical expert instructed. In complex injury cases, it’s not unusual to have 5 or 6 medical experts. Medical experts were frequently summoned to the Court to wait around only to be called back the following day as the going in Court was slow.
These medical expert witnesses are more often than not treating clinicians in the NHS. With virtual hearings now in place, we finally have the ability to limit busy consultants’ time away from patients or theatre lists. With the introduction of virtual hearings, solicitors now must indicate how long each witness will take to give evidence and provide the necessary contact information so that witnesses can attend Proof virtually. This avoids unnecessary travel, which is great for carbon footprint. A consultant can now spend the morning seeing patients and attend ‘Court’ to provide evidence in a personal injury action in the afternoon.

Hand in hand with the move to virtual hearings is the electronic lodging of Court documents. While this had been standard practice for some firms prior to March 2020, there was still a requirement, come Proof, to make paper copies of all productions available to the Court. Many solicitors will tell you that this often led to page numbers or even whole productions going awry. The recent changes mean that both parties must agree a joint bundle seven days in advance of Proof. This is submitted electronically and made available to the witnesses. Gone are the days where your page 3 does not match the defenders or heaven forbid, the Sheriff’s!

Whilst many within the profession were critical of the Court in the early months of the lockdown, the steps that have since been taken have brought the court system forward years rather than months. This could not have been an easy move, but we very much welcome these changes. One thing’s for sure, there can be no going back.

Jodi Gordon – Partner


24 November 2023

Twenty's plenty for us, isn’t it?

The key focus of Road Safety Week 2023 is on 'speed' so a debate about the introduction of 20mph speed limits is inevitable.

Read More >


12 November 2023

What's going on at the MIB

An increase in the time taken to process claims, a reduction in employee numbers and a significant hike in Directors remuneration is unacceptable and utterly shameful.

Read More >


31 August 2023

Work Experience for young students

We were delighted to be able to offer some work experience to two young students who wanted to find out more about what it's like to work in a niche practice law firm.

Read More >


16 July 2023

Poor maintenance causes increase in deaths

According to figures obtained from Police Scotland, road defects, especially potholes, have been blamed for 15 deaths and over 700 injuries since 2013 

Read More >


22 May 2023

The new autonomous future

Certainly, whilst it seems the future is already here, remote driving remains a legal grey area as its neither prohibited nor expressly allowed under current legislation.

Read More >


26 March 2023

Stormy seas for defence of automatism

The defence of automatism should not mean that parties injured due to the negligence of another should be left exposed and unprotected.

Read More >


23 February 2023

Improving Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian fatalities appear to be on the increase. Associate, Jo Clancy, looks at the reasons for this and considers whether there are any sensible measures which can be taken by drivers and/or pedestrians to remedy the situation.

Read More >


5 December 2022

Money or Quality of Life?

Which is more important to someone who has experienced life-changing injuries? A large sum of money or a new quality of life? The former is meaningless without the latter.

Read More >


14 August 2022

A collaborative and client centric approach

A collaborative and client centred approach in Scotland would lead to an imrpoved outcome for all.

Read More >


26 April 2022

Breaking the bias

Dear sirs, we're breaking the bias. More needs to be done to move towards true equality; this conversation cannot and should not be confined to just one day.

Read More >


20 February 2022

The new Highway Code – what’s all the fuss about?

Safe and courteous road users have nothing to worry about as far as the new Highway code rules are concerned


Read More >


16 November 2021

Road Safety Week 2021

RTALS are supporting Road Safety Week 2021 recognising the work undertaken by our Road Safety heroes. 

Read More >


31 October 2021


A defence in automatism has no place in Civil Law

Read More >


2 September 2021

It's all in the balance

Working a 4 day week may sound strange to many, but if a busy Law firm can make it work, then surely others will be able to follow suit.

Read More >


21 March 2021


When it comes to the question of who’s to blame in a road traffic incident, sometimes it is not entirely clear. 

Read More >


26 January 2021

The Courts are getting there virtually

There can be no going backwards now for the Civil courts after accepting a new virtual system for Court hearings.

Read More >


We cover the whole of Scotland and have solicitors based in the Borders, Central Belt and Aberdeen.

Central Scotland
4 Redheughs Rigg Westpoint,
South Gyle,
EH12 9DQ

South of Scotland
5 Cherry Court,
Cavalry Park,
EH45 9BU


Happy Clients

Correspondance Address
16-20 Castle Street,





Scottish Legal Awards WinnerScottish legal Awards 2022

                   Contact Us
              Tel 0333 5557781



© 2023 RTA LAW LLP