The countdown has begun to the end of an era in Cupar with the last-ever sitting of the Justice of the Peace Court.
Cupar Sheriff Court is to close its doors on May 30 after an association with the town stretching back some 900 years.
All court business is to be transferred to Dundee in a move that has prompted fury throughout the legal and business community.
Cupar is one of 10 Sheriff Courts on the Scottish Government ‘hit-list’ as part of a bid to save millions.
The decision was made despite widespread opposition, with the Scottish Court Service being accused of ignoring the views expressed in the public consultation, which were overwhelmingly against the court’s closure.
Opponents fear that access to local justice will be compromised; the economy of Cupar will suffer and Dundee Sheriff Court, already stretched, will be unable to cope with the extra workload.
Last Friday marked the last sitting of the Justice of the Peace Court in Cupar, with Justice David Davidson on the bench.
Mr Davidson and the other justices who have been based at Cupar for a number of years - Sandy Mitchell, D. Y. Cunningham, George Donaldson and Ian Mathers - will now operate from either Dundee or Kirkcaldy.
Mr Mitchell - in his 35th year as a justice - said it was “sad” that the JP Court was closing.
“It’s also a huge loss to Cupar and the end of an era,” he said.
Mr Mitchell, who will now sit on the bench in Dundee, recalled that the JP Court also sat in St Andrews until about 20 years ago. At that time, cases were heard by a panel of three justices, rather than today’s sole presiding justice.
Over the years, the court operated from various locations within the County Buildings in Cupar, including the JP Court Room.
Its permanent home in more recent times has been the Sheriff Court, with its modern-day facilities.
Mr Mitchell added: “The number of cases coming before the JP Court did drop noticeably a few years ago, but it has been busy recently, with more than 60 cases coming before us on a regular basis - most traffic related. It’s a great shame that the court is closing in Cupar.”