Lady Dorrian Review Governance Group: Consideration of a Time-Limited Pilot of Single Judge Rape Trials Working Group Report

An independent report that provides an overview of the findings of the cross sector of the Consideration of a Time-Limited Pilot of Single Judge Rape Trials Working Group.

Part 5: conclusions and recommendations

In discussing a proposed model for piloting single judge trials in line with the recommendation of the Lady Dorrian Review, the Working Group identified the following considerations and features that it recommends should underpin the model:

  • changes to existing rules and processes for rape cases should be kept to a minimum
  • there should be a clear set of objectives against which the pilot should be evaluated, recognising that these may need to change as proposals for the pilot develop
  • the Pilot should incorporate all cases of rape and attempted rape, whether that is rape under common law or under section 1 or section 18 of the Sexual Offences Scotland Act 2009, indicted on or after the commencement date of the pilot, in which there is a single complainer and the charge of rape or attempted rape is the only or principal charge on the indictment, (allowing for minor or evidential charges or dockets to also appear in addition to the principal charge). The pilot will not include indictments which also include charges of murder or attempted murder
  • the pilot should take place in the High Court
  • all procedural steps, questions and applications for determination shall proceed as normal, and within the timeframes currently prescribed by legislation and law
  • parties should be given the opportunity to request at the Preliminary Hearing that a case should be excluded from the pilot although grounds for exclusion from the pilot should be specifically limited to whether or not the case meets the specified criteria
  • the trial should commence on the assigned diet with the leading of evidence. Any reference in any enactment or other rule of law to commencement of the trial or the swearing in of the jury shall mean this
  • the Court should possess all the powers, authorities and jurisdiction which it would have had if it had been sitting with a jury, including the power to determine any question and to make any finding which would otherwise be required to be determined or made by a jury. References in any enactment or other rule of law to a jury or the verdict or finding of a jury will require to be construed accordingly.
  • once the judge has arrived at their verdict, the Court shall reconvene to allow the judge to provide their verdict in open court in line with established practice
  • the trial court shall either pass sentence on the day, or as more commonly occurs, the court may continue the cause for sentence in open court to an assigned date to allow the collation of reports
  • the judge shall publish written reasons for their verdict in accordance with specific guidance within a designated period, the majority of the Group support it being two weeks of the verdict being delivered
  • The procedural requirements for appeals from the decision of a jury trial shall remain and apply as they do currently
  • Should specific requirements be introduced placing a requirement on judges to return written reasons for verdicts within a specific timeframe, the timescale for appeals may need to be updated to reflect this



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