Proposed locations have been announced for four more High Courts to sit daily in Scotland to help deal with the trial backlog caused by the pandemic.
Airdrie, Dundee, Inverness and Stirling are the planned new locations, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) confirmed.
Additional Sheriff Courts for solemn cases – heard before a sheriff and a jury – are proposed for Dumfries and Dunfermline.
Up to 10 summary trial courts – where cases are dealt with by a sheriff sitting without a jury – will be allocated across the sheriff court network, based on the level of case backlog and safe court capacity.
The changes will take place from September and will also include an expansion of remote jury centres – where jurors sit in cinemas linked to the court to aid social distancing.
In a statement, SCTS said: “Over the coming months we will be working with justice organisations, the legal profession and the third sector to prepare for the recovery programme, which will be dependent on continued progress on vaccination and Covid transmission rates.”
SCTS previously predicted that with these extra resources, the backlog of High Court and Sheriff solemn cases caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be cleared by 2025, and summary trial backlogs will be dealt with by 2024.
Cases piled up as courts were closed for a period during the first lockdown, with new jury trials put on hold for several months.