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Courts

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what targets have been set for completing office business in the sheriff courts and supreme courts; and what performance was secured in 1992–93.

The targets set for completion of office business in the sheriff courts in 1992–93 are set out. These targets remain in force for 1993–94. The percentage figures following each target indicate the proportion of sheriff courts achieving the target figures or better in the course of the year. More detailed information on the performance of individual court offices will be made available to local court advisory committees. Similar targets are in force in the supreme courts and all of these were achieved in 1992–93.

Targets for sheriff clerk offices and performance 1992–93
Per cent.
To issue the first deliverance in all ordinary writs, or return to sender, within two working days of receipt.95
To issue the first deliverance in all summary cause actions—including small claims—or return to sender, within three working days of receipt.94
To draft, in preparation for signature, all final ordinary decrees in absence—excluding divorce—within one working day of receipt of the minute craving decree.90
To draft, within seven days of receipt of the affidavits, in preparation for signature, all final decrees in undefended ordinary actions of divorce or return the affidavits to the sender.87
To draft, in preparation for signature, all decrees in actions of divorce under the simplified procedure within one working day of expiry of the period of notice.97
To issue extract decrees in all ordinary actions— excluding divorce—within three working days of the date of ordering or the expiry of the days of appeal —whichever is the later.84
To issue all summary cause/small claim extract decrees within one working day of the due date.95
To issue extract decrees in all ordinary actions of divorce within one working day of the due date.84
To issue extract decrees of divorce under the simplified procedure within one working day of the due date.89
To issue the first deliverance in all petitions for sequestration/liquidation, or return to sender, within two working days of receipt.90
To prepare for signature the first deliverance in all adoption petitions within one working day of a correct petition being received.90
To scrutinise and accept or reject commissary petitions and inventories within two working days of receipt.93
To issue confirmation within three working days of acceptance of inventory.90
To conduct small estate interviews within seven days from the time an interview is requested.98
To process juror claims for payment, or return to sender, within two working days of receipt.98
To process postal fines—other than unidentified payments—on day of receipt.99
To issue warning letters, means enquiry citations, warrants, extracts, etc., and transfer fines within seven days of the trawl.96
Per cent.
To remit all non-Exchequer receipts to entitled parties within 14 days from the end of the last accountancy period.96
To effect a card reconciliation of all outstanding financial penalties on a monthly basis.96
To reply to letter pleas within one working day of the court.99
To order social enquiry and other reports within one working day of the court.99
To complete probation, community service, compensation and fines supervision orders within two working days of the court.99
To issue juror citations in the first instance at least 21 days prior to a jury sitting/trial.99
To reply to all letter inquiries except those which require extensive investigation within two working days of receipt.93

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what objectives for reducing court waiting periods have been established; what targets have been set for 1993–94 in respect of court waiting periods for the supreme and sheriff courts; and if he will give details of the performance of the supreme courts and each of the sheriff courts in 1992–93.

The programming of court business is a matter for the judiciary. Acting in co-operation with the judiciary in the supreme and sheriff courts, the Government seek to provide the resources which will allow speedy access to justice. Having regard to the time required by parties to have their cases properly prepared, the following objectives have been adopted:

the Lord President of the Court of Session has accepted the recommendations of a committee chaired by Lord Maxwell relating to the reduction of waiting periods in the supreme courts: the target is to reduce waiting periods to the recommended levels and, subject to any acceleration in the rate of increase in court work, maintain waiting periods at that level: for certain categories of hearing, additional targets involving much reduced waiting periods, have been set;
sheriffs principal have agreed to overall targets of reducing waiting periods for summary criminal trials in the sheriff courts to 12 weeks or less by the end of 1993–94 and to hold them at that level thereafter; and to maintain waiting periods at 12 weeks or less for civil cases in the sheriff courts.
The main targets for waiting periods for 1993–94 are set down—"waiting period" is the period between a trial or proof being requested or an appeal being received and the date assigned expressed in weeks. The same targets applied in 1992–93 and national performance for that year is noted in the second column.
Target1992–93 performance
Criminal Appeal Business
Summary prosecutions:
Notes of Appeal against Sentence and Stated cases (accused in custody)44
Court of Session
(a) Ordinary proofs2420
(b) Defended Consistorial proofs1717
Sheriff Courts (national average)
Target1992–93 performance
(a) Civil proofs/debates1211·6
(b) Summary Criminal Trials1214·8
In 1992–93, waiting periods of 12 weeks or less were achieved for civil debates/proofs in 84 per cent. of sheriff courts.Waiting periods of 12 weeks or less were achieved for summary criminal business in 72 per cent. of sheriff courts.Performance of individual sheriff courts at 31 March 1993 is set out in the table:

CourtCivil proofsSummary criminal trials
Falkirk1517
Kirkcaldy1512
Dingwall1414
Hamilton1415
Airdrie1417
Stirling1411
Glasgow1322
Dumbarton1310
Dumfries1212
Fort William1214
Arbroath1212
Stonehaven1216
Wick1212
Dornoch1212
Stornoway1212
Cupar1112
Kirkcudbright1110
Stranraer1111
Rothesay1110
Aberdeen1112
Peterhead1111
Kilmarnock1110
Linlithgow1115
Peebles1011
Dunoon1012
Inverness1011
Tain1010
Lanark1012
Oban109
Campbeltown106
Selkirk109
Edinburgh98
Alloa913
Dunfermlin915
Jedburgh99
Banff910
Perth912
Duns99
Portree88
Lochmaddy812
Greenock812
Elgin88
Dundee812
Forfar86
Haddington819
Kirkwall88
Ayr712
Lerwick66
Paisley614
In addition, the sheriffs principal have agreed that sheriff court programmes should be designed to ensure that the number of trials adjourned due to lack of court time should not exceed 5 per cent of the total number set down, a target met in 87 per cent of sheriff courts.