§ 169 Before Clause 48, insert the following new clause:
§ Criminal jurisdiction in sheriff court
Sheriff court jurisdiction
§ `. The following subsection shall be inserted at the end of each of sections 3 and 288 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 to form subsection (4) and subsection (5) respectively of these sections—
§ "() Where an offence is alleged to have been committed in one district in a sheriffdom, it shall be competent to try that offence in a sheriff court in any other district in that sheriffdom.".
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 169. For reasons I have already given, it would not be possible immediately to have such live television links established in every sheriff court district throughout Scotland. Accordingly this provision has been introduced. It reads:Where an offence is alleged to have been committed in one district in a sheriffdom, it shall be competent to try that offence in a sheriff court in any other district in that sheriffdom".1638 In my view this is a useful change which might have a slightly wider application.
Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 169.—(Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.)
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, I rise merely to point out the possible difficulty which may arise during a trial taking place in Stornaway. For example, one may have a child who freezes up at the sight of the accused—I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, for suggesting that this might happen in Stornaway. One would presumably have no television link installed and therefore one would have to move to, say, Inverness when one was right in the middle of a trial. One would have to move a jury of 15 people, the child and those who are looking after it, together with the accused and so on. If such a situation arises in the middle of a trial, it is a very difficult problem to solve. However, no doubt the noble and learned Lord has thought about such a situation.
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
My Lords, I have certainly done so. For the very reasons outlined by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, I envisage that, if it were done at all, it would only be in the most exceptional circumstances once a trial was under way. I must say that I believe the Crown would be in a difficult position about which it would be sharply criticised if it had failed to anticipate the occurrence of such a problem.
§ Lord McCluskey
My Lords, in my view the provision should say not only that,it shall be competent to try that offence in a sheriff court in any other district in that sheriffdom";it should also say that it should be competent to start trying the offence in one sheriff court in one district and then to conclude it, or continue it in part, in another sheriff court in another district in the sheriffdom. One could have a situation in which there were facilities without having to move any vast distance—especially, for example, in summary trials. Having started the proceedings in one place and the problem only arising after commencement of the trial, it would be unfortunate if the court was not competent to try the case in the two places.
However, I believe that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate is advising us that in many ways this is an experimental matter. No doubt the Government will return to the issue in the light of the wider recommendations of the Law Commission and a recent book with which I hope he is familiar written by a Cambridge criminologist and a Scot.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.