On 18 March 2020 we advised that the Housing and Property Chamber had moved to postpone hearings and case management discussions scheduled to take place from 19 March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This decision was taken as part of the measures required to manage the COVID-19 outbreak and to keep the public, parties, tribunal participants, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service staff safe. Due to the uncertainty and in order to comply with the Chamber Procedural Rules a universal date for the postponement of all case management discussions and hearings of the Chamber was set of 28 May 2020 at 10am at Glasgow Tribunals Centre. Parties were advised that this was merely a date set to comply with legislation and further details of the actual date when any case will be heard would be notified to parties when the situation became more certain. We explained that if you were one of those affected by the postponements or adjournments you would be contacted with further information as the position became clearer. Those parties affected have within the last week been contacted with an update of the position and this article provides information to the wider public.
The lockdown arrangements have not changed and no easing of restrictions are currently in place. Even when these restrictions start to be lifted by the Scottish Government, it will take time for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, who provide the administration for the Housing and Property Chamber, to resume occupation of Glasgow Tribunal Centre after completion of the necessary health and safety assessments and completion of any recommended works and implementation of recommended measures. A coordinated approach is being taken by SCTS for resumption of work in the courts and tribunals. Significant changes to the way courts and tribunals work are necessary and the changes required are being considered and implemented.
As in March, with the current uncertainty of the duration of the COVID 19 outbreak and uncertainty surrounding the requirements for ongoing measures, it is impossible to accurately specify a date, time and place of any postponed case management discussion or hearing when the case will be heard by tribunal members.
Therefore, a decision has been taken that it is too early to schedule individual cases for case management discussions and hearings and further postponements and adjournments are necessary. The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (“the Tribunal”), in exercise of its discretion and on its own initiative in terms of Rule 28(1) of the Chamber Procedural Rules, has ordered a further postponement (or adjournment in appropriate cases where the hearing has started) of all case management discussions/hearings to 9 July 2020 at 10am at Glasgow Tribunal Centre, 20 York Street, Glasgow. This is a universal date for the postponement / adjournment of all case management discussions and hearings of the Chamber and parties should note that this is merely a date set to comply with legislation and further details of the actual date when any case will be heard will be notified to parties when the situation is more certain. Parties should not attend the Tribunal on 09 July 2020 and will receive further details before that date.
It is our hope that rescheduled case management discussions conducted by teleconference will be able to be fixed from a date in July onwards but as you will appreciate this is dependent on matters out with our control. Options for the resumption of oral hearings are under consideration but are likely to take longer because of the safety risks associated with face to face proceedings. Meantime, applications can be lodged with the Chamber and we recommend that, where possible, this is done electronically. Some administrative work is being undertaken remotely. Inspections and interior re-inspections are not currently being undertaken due to the safety concerns.
The Tribunal regrets that such an action requires to be taken and appreciates that it will add to the concerns of parties at this challenging time.