The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has launched its Digital Strategy for 2018 to 2023. The strategy aims to maximise the opportunities afforded by technology to improve processes, provide easy access to information, minimise the need for physical attendance in courts and support quicker outcomes.
Considerable reform has already taken place across Scotland’s civil justice system following enactment of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. Reforms include the creation of a Simple Procedure for lower value claims, which has been developed with the use of online transactions in mind.
Developments for civil cases include:
- Online management of civil cases: Civil Online was launched in March 2018, allowing parties using Simple Procedure to track cases online. It will be expanded to other courts on a phased basis from 2019 onwards, giving parties the ability to submit and manage cases electronically.
- Over time, the aim is to have greater proportion of “virtual hearings” by audio or video conference, to minimise the need for attendance in court.
- Consolidation of SCTS’s web presence to provide more intuitive advice and information services that will allow users to quickly find the right information and seek a speedier resolution of their dispute
In line with the Scottish Government's Cyber Resilience Strategy, SCTS will embed cyber resilience into its approach so that it is prepared, secure and able to recover from any incidents, and has committed to secure Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.
The Digital Strategy is both welcome and necessary. Well targeted investment in technology will help to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the courts, to the ultimate benefit of end users.