Delegating or exchanging court duty work

We prepare the court duty plans for each sheriff and JP court in Scotland.  The plans allocate certain periods to each duty solicitor’s firm providing details of the duty and an alternate duty solicitor for each period.

Firms will be able to use internal systems to allocate you to attend at court as a duty solicitor. Court appearances can only be made by you, if you have personally been accepted on to the duty plan.  You can delegate attendance or the provision of advice to a solicitor in another firm, but they must also have been accepted onto a court duty plan.

Your firm may exchange a period of duty with another firm on the same plan. You must tell us of any change, as we will then:

  • Notify the police and court officials
  • Record the change for our Accounts Assessment Department.

Responsibilities of the duty solicitor

The role of duty solicitor is a responsible one.

A duty solicitor’s period of duty begins at 12.01 a.m. on the first day of the period shown on the plan and ends at midnight on the last day of the period.  However, you may be called out to attend a client who is in custody on a charge of murder, attempted murder or culpable homicide.  If so, you must continue to provide the client with duty solicitor services, even outwith the period of duty shown on the plan.

As a court duty solicitor, you must:

  • Give priority to the performance of these services
  • Be available when the particular court requires you to perform these services during each sitting by the court

Alternate solicitor

If two or more clients are entitled to your services and you consider there is a conflict of interest between them, you should call on your alternate.  If unavailable, you can call on any other eligible solicitor who is willing to act as court duty solicitor. They will be deemed to be acting as court duty solicitor in the court duty plan.

You are responsible for assessing the workload each day.  You may call upon the alternate court duty solicitor but you are responsible for notifying us accordingly.

If you fail to attend to your duties without making alternate provisions, you may be considered unsuitable for inclusion in a future duty plan.

If you wish to withdraw from the plan you must give us at least one month’s notice, or undertake the duties you have agreed to carry out.

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