Local Sheriff Courts will not close

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Stornoway and Lochmaddy Sheriff Courts are not to be considered for closure by the Scottish Court Service, however the Justice of the Peace Court in Stornoway is likely to be ‘disestablished’.

The Scottish court Service announced a three month consultation today (Friday) into the future of the court service which includes proposals to close many sheriff courts across Scotland.

The only proposal which includes Stornoway is regarding the Justice of the Peace court – this sits in Stornoway only once a month and the consultation document reports that in the last year, it considered just 50 cases.

If the proposal is agreed, the business of this court would be heard in the Sheriff Court in the same location.

The document states: “Justice of the peace courts were established for the sheriff court districts of Stornoway, Portree and Wick in 2008 carrying on the tradition of lay justice previously administered by the district courts for the Commission areas of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highland Council. Experience since 2008 is that these justice of the peace courts have a very small caseload.”

It continues: “Our view is that this level of workload is insufficient to justify the cost of maintaining a justice of the peace court in these areas. Accordingly we propose to promote the disestablishment of these courts. Disestablishment would not mean that the business previously dealt with by the justice of the peace court would no longer be heard locally. After disestablishment, all summary criminal business would be heard by the local sheriff

court, as presently occurs in Kirkwall and Lerwick districts where district courts, and subsequently justice of the peace courts, were never established.”