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Use technology for efficient trials, says judge

One of the country's most senior judges has called for a technological overhaul of criminal trials in Scotland.

Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk and second senior judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, said the format of criminal trials, which remains largely unchanged since Victorian times, wasted time and money and might even obstruct justice.

Lord Carloway argued there was no need for witnesses to give evidence live in court. Statements that were recorded on smartphones or iPads as soon as possible after a crime had been committed should be admissible in court. Currently, he fears there is a danger the delay before a case comes to court risks witnesses struggling to remember what they saw.

"The idea that everybody comes together at the one place at the one time for a trial of the evidence is essentially borne out of the conditions that existed in the 19th century and before," Lord Carloway said. "What is required is not mere tinkering with a Victorian system of proof." What is needed, he said, is "clear-sky thinking on how best to prove or disprove facts efficiently, given advances in technology since the web arrived."

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