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New Preliminary Hearings Bench Book published


Jul 22, 2020

Today marks the publication of a new Preliminary Hearings Bench Book.

The Bench Book, written by Lord Matthews and Lord Beckett, aims to ensure a consistent and effective approach to case management and, although primarily designed for the judiciary, also has the profession in mind.

As explained by the Lord Justice General in his foreword: “The Bench Book will provide support to the preliminary hearing judges in dealing with the many issues which must be addressed. It will also be a valuable tool for practitioners who will better understand the obligations which rest upon them and the expectations the court will have of them.”

What is contained in the Bench Book?

The resource aims to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for judges and practitioners at the preliminary hearing, providing guidance on the legislation and significant case law as well as highlighting key excerpts from Renton and Brown in respect of a number of topics. The topics covered include: the statutory obligations at preliminary hearing; disclosure; time limits and time bar; judicial culture; vulnerable witnesses and sections 274 and 275 of the 1995 Act. Key resources, such as applicable High Court Practice Notes, the Commission Checklist and the rape shield provisions, are replicated in the appendices for ease.

Many of the issues addressed at a preliminary hearing are also relevant at first diets in the sheriff court.

How to access the Bench Book

The Bench Book has been made publicly available on the Judiciary of Scotland website so that solicitors and advocates can benefit from it.

Updates to the Bench Book

The Preliminary Hearings Bench Book will be kept up to date by the Judicial Institute (JI). The JI Directors will endeavour to take note of future changes (such as Appeal Court decisions, legislation or Practice Notes) which require to be referenced in the Bench Book, and will work with the authors to ensure that it is current.

The most up to date version will continue to be published on the JI publications page of the Judiciary of Scotland website.

22 July 2020