New figures have been released about the number of people who fail to appear at court, with particularly high rates being noted in courts in the north and north east of Scotland.

Whilst this article focuses on the criminal courts (who by their nature deal with a large number of accused and witnesses alike), the civil courts are not immune. Every week the civil court rolls are taken up by pursuers and defenders who fail to progress their claim or defence. The cost and inconvenience to the already over-stretched court system cannot be underestimated, as well as the increased costs to parties pursuing or defending civil claims.

What can be done to help alleviate this problem? Is better technology the answer, reducing the need for physical appearances at court for what are often very short hearings? Are courts (or solicitors) giving people enough information about what is expected of them when they become involved in litigation? 

No doubt this is part of a wider question of how the justice system as a whole can make itself more user friendly, and make better use of technology.