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Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004

Section 271 – Vulnerable witnesses: main definitions

8.Subsection (1) defines a “vulnerable witness” as being:

  • a child (i.e. a person under 16 at the time the complaint or indictment is served on the accused); or

  • an adult witness the quality of whose evidence (as defined in subsection (4)) may be diminished either as a result of a mental disorder (as defined by section 328 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003), or due to fear or distress of the witness associated with giving their evidence.

9.Subsection (2) sets out a range of factors which must be taken into account by the court when it determines whether an adult witness is vulnerable. The court may also take into account any other factors not listed in subsection (2), but which appear to be relevant.

10.Subsection (5) makes it clear that the provisions on vulnerable witnesses apply only to proceedings in the High Court and sheriff court, although the Act confers a power on the Scottish Ministers by order to apply the provisions to proceedings in the district court (see section 10).

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