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Opening the trial:  This is begun by the pursuer’s representative, who explains the essence of the case and gives the sheriff a general idea of the papers and the evidence that will be brought. It will be explained to the sheriff which evidence is disputed and which is agreed. The sheriff will have had an opportunity to read some of the papers beforehand to already have some idea of the issues that must be decided.

Pursuer’s evidence: All the witnesses for the pursuer will then be called in turn, including any expert witnesses such as doctors or engineersIf there are a lot of witnesses, this stage can take a long time.

Defender’s case: The defender will then have the opportunity to call their own witnesses, who may be as numerous as the pursuer’s, so this again can be a lengthy process.

Submissions: Once all the evidence has been heard, the solicitors on each side sum up their arguments and have a final attempt to persuade the sheriff of their side’s case.

Decision: The sheriff may decide the case immediately. In complex cases, the sheriff may go away and think about the decision and so the parties will assemble in court again at a later date to hear the judgement given.  The decision may also be sent out to parties’ solicitors at a later stage.