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Scots law () is the
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influ ...
of
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
. It is a hybrid or mixed legal system containing
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
and
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
elements, that traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. Together with
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black ...
and
Northern Irish law Northern Irish law refers to the legal system of statutory law, statute and common law operating in Northern Ireland since the partition of Ireland established Northern Ireland as a separate Jurisdiction (area), jurisdiction within the United Kin ...
, it is one of the three
legal systems of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer t ...
.Stair, General Legal Concepts (Reissue), para. 4 (Online) Retrieved 2011-11-29 Early Scots law before the 12th century consisted of the different legal traditions of the various cultural groups who inhabited the country at the time, the
Gaels The Gaels (; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group native to Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It i ...

Gaels
in most of the country, with the
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...
and
Anglo-Saxons The Anglo-Saxons were a Cultural identity, cultural group who inhabited England. They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the North Sea coastlands of mainland Europe. However ...
in some districts south of the Forth and with the
Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture and religion * Norse m ...
in the islands and north of the
River Oykel Looking downstream, near Oykel Bridge. The River Oykel ( gd, Òiceall or , ) is a major river in northern Scotland that is famous for its salmon fishing. It rises on Ben More Assynt, a few miles from Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland, and dra ...
. The introduction of
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
from the 12th century and the expansion of the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern thi ...
established the modern roots of Scots law, which was gradually influenced by other, especially
Anglo-NormanAnglo-Norman may refer to: *Anglo-Normans The Anglo-Normans ( nrf, Anglo-Normaunds, ang, Engel-Norðmandisca) were the medieval ruling class in England, composed mainly of a combination of ethnic Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Bretons, Flemish people, F ...
and continental legal traditions. Although there was some indirect
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
influence on Scots law, the direct influence of Roman law was slight up until around the 15th century. After this time, Roman law was often adopted in argument in court, in an adapted form, where there was no native Scots rule to settle a dispute; and Roman law was in this way partially received into Scots law. Scots law recognises four sources of law: legislation, legal precedent, specific academic writings, and custom. Legislation affecting Scotland may be passed by the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
and the
United Kingdom Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
. Some legislation passed by the pre-1707
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
is still also valid. Since the
Union with England Act 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Act of Parliament, Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put ...
, Scotland has shared a
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
with
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
. Scotland retained a fundamentally different legal system from that south of the border, but the Union exerted English influence upon Scots law. Since the UK joined the European Union, Scots law has also been affected by
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
under the
Treaties of the European Union The Treaties of the European Union are a set of Treaty, international treaties between the European Union (EU) Member state of the European Union, member states which sets out the EU's Constitution, constitutional basis. They establish the variou ...
, the requirements of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
(entered into by members of the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
) and the creation of the devolved Scottish Parliament which may pass legislation within all areas not
reserved to Westminster
reserved to Westminster
, as detailed by the
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
.Sch. 5 Scotland Act 1998Devolved and reserved matters explained
,
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
, Retrieved 2011-10-22
All devolved Scots law is also legally required to keep in regulatory alignment with all future
EU Law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a whic ...
under the provisions of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2020 after it was passed by the Scottish Parliament in December 2020. It received Royal assent on 29 January 2021 and came into operation on the same day.


Scotland as a distinct jurisdiction

The United Kingdom, judicially, consists of three
jurisdictions Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declaration') is the legal term for the authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. Colloquially it is used to refer to the geographical area (: locati ...
: England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. There are important differences between Scots law,
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black ...
and
Northern Irish law Northern Irish law refers to the legal system of statutory law, statute and common law operating in Northern Ireland since the partition of Ireland established Northern Ireland as a separate Jurisdiction (area), jurisdiction within the United Kin ...
in areas such as
property law Property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , ...
,
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
,
trust law A trust is a legal relationship in which the holder of a right (eg. title to a chattel) gives it to another person or entity who must keep and use it solely for another's benefit. In common law, English common law, the party who entrusts the ri ...
,
inheritance law Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, Title (property), titles, debts, entitlements, Privilege (law), privileges, rights, and Law of obligations, obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ ...
,
evidence law The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of fact A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that i ...
and
family law Family law (also called matrimonial law or the ''law of domestic relations'') is an area of the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to for ...
while there are greater similarities in areas of UK-wide interest such as
commercial law Commercial law, also known as mercantile law or trade law, is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of Legal person, persons and business engaged in commerce, merchandising, trade, and sales. It is often considered ...
, consumer rights, taxation, employment law and health and safety regulations. Examples of differences between the jurisdictions include the age of legal capacity (16 years old in Scotland but 18 years old in England and Wales), and the fact that
equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
was never a distinct branch of Scots law. Some examples in criminal law include: * The use of 15-member juries for criminal trials in Scotland (compared with 12-member juries in England and Wales) who always decide by simple majority.Jones, p. 46 * The accused in a criminal trial does not have the right to elect between a
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
or
jury trial A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a lawful proceeding in which a jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice h ...
. * Judges and juries of criminal trials have the "third verdict" of "
not proven Not proven (, ) is a verdict In law, a verdict is the formal trier of fact, finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. In a bench trial, the judge's decision near the end of the trial is simply re ...
" available to them. There are also differences in the terminology used between the jurisdictions. For example, in Scotland there are no
magistrates' courts A magistrates' court is a lower court where, in several Jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions, all criminal proceedings start. Also some civil matters may be dealt with here, such as family proceedings. Courts * Magistrates' court (England and Wales) ...
or
Crown Court The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice The High Court of Justice in London, known properly as Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England, together with the Court of Appeal of England and ...

Crown Court
, but there are
justice of the peace court A justice of the peace court is the least Precedent, authoritative type of criminal justice, criminal court of law, court in Scotland. The court operates under summary offence, summary procedure and deals primarily with less serious criminal off ...
s,
sheriff court A sheriff court is the principal local civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indep ...
s and the
College of Justice The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a go ...
. The Procurator Fiscal Service provides the independent public prosecution service for Scotland like the
Crown Prosecution Service The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecution A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial ...

Crown Prosecution Service
in England and Wales and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland.


History

Scots law can be traced to its early beginnings as a number of different custom systems among Scotland's early cultures to its modern role as one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. The various historic sources of Scots law, including
custom Custom may refer to: Sense: Customary * Convention (norm) A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention ma ...
,
feudal law Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
,
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
,
civilian Civilians under international humanitarian law are "persons who are not members of the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare W ...
''
ius commune ''Jus commune'' or ''ius commune'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
'' and English law have created a hybrid or mixed legal system. The nature of Scots law before the 12th century is largely speculative, but is likely to have been a mixture of different legal traditions representing the different cultures inhabiting the land at the time, including
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...
,
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
,
Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture and religion * Norse m ...
and
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression ...
customs. There is evidence to suggest that as late as the 17th century marriage laws in the
Highlands and Islands The Highlands and Islands is an area of broadly covering the , plus , and (Western Isles). The Highlands and Islands are sometimes defined as the area to which the of 1886 applied. This area consisted of eight : * * * * * * * * ...
still reflected Gaelic custom, contrary to
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
religious principles. The formation of the Kingdom of Scotland and its subjugation of the surrounding cultures, completed by the
Battle of Carham The Battle of Carham (c. 1018) was fought between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Northumbrians at Carham on Tweed. Uhtred the Bold, Uhtred, son of Waltheof of Bamburgh, fought the combined forces of Malcolm II of Scotland and Owen the Bald (Kin ...
, established what are approximately the boundaries of contemporary mainland Scotland. The
Outer Hebrides The Outer Hebrides () or Western Isles ( gd, Na h-Eileanan Siar or ; sco, Waster Isles), sometimes known as ("islands of the strangers") or the Long Isle/Long Island ( gd, An t-Eilean Fada, links=no), is an island chain off the west coast ...
were added after the
Battle of Largs The Battle of Largs (2 October 1263) was a decisive, albeit small battle between the kingdoms of Kingdom of Norway (872–1397), Norway and Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde near Largs, Scotland. Like the Japanese victories ov ...
in 1263, and the
Northern Isles The Northern Isles ( sco, Northren Isles; gd, Na h-Eileanan a Tuath; non, Norðreyjar; nrn, Nordøjar) are a pair of archipelagos off the north coast of mainland Scotland, comprising Orkney and Shetland. They are part of Scotland, as the Hebr ...
were acquired in 1469, completing what is today the legal jurisdiction of Scotland. From the 12th century
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
was gradually introduced to Scotland and established
feudal land tenure Under the English feudal system several different forms of land tenure existed, each effectively a contract with differing rights and duties attached thereto. Such tenures could be either free-hold, signifying that they were hereditable or perpet ...
over many parts of the south and east, which eventually spread northward. As feudalism began to develop in Scotland early court systems began to develop, including early forms of
Sheriff Court A sheriff court is the principal local civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indep ...
s. Under
Robert the Bruce Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as Robert the Bruce, was King of Scots The monarch of Scotland was the head of state of the Kingdom of Scotland. According to tradition, the first King of Scots was Kenneth I ...
the importance of the
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
grew as he called parliaments more frequently, and its composition shifted to include more representation from the
burgh A burgh is an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российской Федерации, subyekty Rossiyskoy Federatsii ...

burgh
s and lesser landowners.Reid, ''I. Introduction and Property'', p. 38 In 1399 a General Council established that the King should hold a parliament at least once a year for the next three years so "that his subjects are served by the law". In 1318 a parliament at
Scone A scone ( or ) is a baked good, usually made of either wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most wi ...
enacted a code of law that drew upon older practices, but it was also dominated by current events and focused on military matters and the conduct of the war of Scottish Independence. From the 14th century we have surviving examples of early Scottish legal literature, such as the ''
Regiam Majestatem The ''Regiam Majestatem'' is the earliest surviving work giving a comprehensive digest of the Law of Scotland. The name of the document is derived from its first two words. It consists of four books, treating (1) civil actions and jurisdictions ...
'' (on procedure at the royal courts) and the ''Quoniam Attachiamenta'' (on procedure at the baron courts). Both of these important texts, as they were copied, had provisions from
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
and the ''
ius commune ''Jus commune'' or ''ius commune'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
'' inserted or developed, demonstrating the influence which both these sources had on Scots law. From the reign of King
James I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and King of Ireland, Ireland as James I from the Union of the Crowns, union of the Scottish and En ...

James I
to King
James V James V (10 April 1512 – 14 December 1542) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of government by which a hereditary mo ...

James V
the beginnings of a legal profession began to develop and the administration of criminal and civil justice was centralised. The Parliament of Scotland was normally called on an annual basis during this period and its membership was further defined. The evolution of the modern
Court of Session The Court of Session is the supreme civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indepen ...
also traces its history to the 15th and early 16th century with the establishment of a specialised group of councillors to the King evolving from the King's Council who dealt solely with the administration of justice. In 1528, it was established that the Lords of Council not appointed to this body were to be excluded from its audiences and it was also this body that four years later in 1532 became the College of Justice. The
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legisl ...
merged the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern thi ...
and the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
to form the new
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
. Article 19 of the Act confirmed the continuing authority of the
College of Justice The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a go ...
,
Court of Session The Court of Session is the supreme civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indepen ...
and
Court of Justiciary The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of ...
in Scotland. Article 3, however, merged the
Estates of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human ...
with the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who u ...
to form the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to m ...
, with its seat in the
Palace of Westminster The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Towns ...

Palace of Westminster
,
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
. Under the terms of the Act of Union, Scotland retained its own systems of law, education and Church (
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
polity), separately from the rest of the country. The
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to m ...
otherwise was not restricted in altering laws concerning public right, policy and civil government, but concerning private right, only alterations for the evident utility of the subjects within Scotland were permitted. The
Scottish Enlightenment The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century ...
then reinvigorated Scots law as a university-taught discipline. The transfer of legislative power to London and the introduction of appeal in civil but not criminal cases to the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
(now, by appeal to the new
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
) brought further English influence. Acts of the Parliament began to create unified legal statutes applying in both England and Scotland, particularly when conformity was seen as necessary for pragmatic reasons (such as the
Sale of Goods Act 1893 The Sale of Goods Act 1893 (56 & 57 Vict. c.71) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the Unit ...
). Appeal decisions by English judges raised concerns about this appeal to a foreign system, and in the late 19th century Acts allowed for the appointment of Scottish Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. At the same time, a series of cases made it clear that no appeal lay from the High Court of Justiciary to the House of Lords. Today the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
usually has a minimum of two Scottish justices to ensure that some Scottish experience is brought to bear on Scottish appeals. Scots law has continued to change and develop in the 20th century, with the most significant change coming under Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolution and the reformation of the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
.


Influential sources

An early Scottish legal compilation, ''
Regiam Majestatem The ''Regiam Majestatem'' is the earliest surviving work giving a comprehensive digest of the Law of Scotland. The name of the document is derived from its first two words. It consists of four books, treating (1) civil actions and jurisdictions ...
'', was based heavily on Ranulf de Glanvill, Glanvill's Tractatus of Glanvill, English law treatise, although it also contains elements of
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, feudal law, canon law, customary law and native Scots statutes. Although there was some indirect Roman-law influence on Scots law, via medieval ''ius commune'' and
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
used in the church courts, the direct influence of Roman law was slight up until around the mid-15th century. After this time, civilian ''ius commune'' was often adopted in argument in court, in an adapted form, where there was no native Scots rule to settle a dispute; and civil law was in this way partially received ''in subsidium'' into Scots law. Since the
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legisl ...
, Scotland has shared a United Kingdom Parliament, legislature with the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland retained a fundamentally different legal system from that of
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, but the Union brought England, English influence on Scots law. In recent years, Scots law has also been affected by
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
under the
Treaties of the European Union The Treaties of the European Union are a set of Treaty, international treaties between the European Union (EU) Member state of the European Union, member states which sets out the EU's Constitution, constitutional basis. They establish the variou ...
, the requirements of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
(entered into by members of the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
) and the establishment of the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
which may pass legislation within its Reserved matters (Westminster)#Scotland, areas of legislative competence as detailed by the
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
.


Sources of law


Legislation

The Parliament of the United Kingdom has the power to pass statutes on any issue for Scotland, although under the Sewel convention it will not do so in Reserved matters (Westminster)#Scotland, devolved matters without the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
's consent.Bradley & Ewing
p. 22p. 64
/ref> The Human Rights Act 1998, the
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
and the European Communities Act 1972 (UK), European Communities Act 1972 have special status in the law of Scotland. Modern statutes will specify that they apply to
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and may also include special wording to take into consideration unique elements of the legal system. Statutes must receive Royal Assent from the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Queen before becoming law, however this is now only a formal procedure and is automatic. Legislation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is not subject to revocation by the courts as the Parliament is said to have supreme legal authority; however, application of legislation is subject to judicial review and also in practice, the Parliament will tend not to create legislation which contradicts the Human Rights Act 1998 or
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
, although it is technically free to do so. The degree to which the Parliament has surrendered this sovereignty is a matter of controversy with arguments generally concerning what the relationship should be between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament also regularly delegate powers to Ministers of the Crown or other bodies to produce legislation in the form of statutory instruments. This delegated legislation has legal effect in Scotland so far as the specific provisions of the statutory instrument are duly authorised by the powers of the Act, a question which can be subjected to judicial review. The
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
is a Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved Unicameralism, unicameral
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
that has the power to pass statutes only affecting Scotland on matters Reserved matters (Westminster)#Scotland, within its legislative competence. Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament must also comply with the Human Rights Act 1998 and
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
, otherwise the Court of Session or High Court of Justiciary have the authority to strike down the legislation as ''ultra vires''. There have been a number of high-profile examples of challenges to Scottish Parliament legislation on these grounds, including against the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 where an interest group unsuccessfully claimed the ban on fox hunting violated their human rights. Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament also requires Royal Assent which, like with the Parliament of the United Kingdom, is automatically granted. Legislation passed by the pre-1707
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
still has legal effect in Scotland, though the number of statutes that have not been repealed is limited. Examples include the Royal Mines Act 1424, which makes gold and silver mines the property of the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, and the Leases Act 1449, which is still relied on today in
property law Property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , ...
cases. Legislation which forms part of the law of Scotland should not be confused with a civil code as it does not attempt to comprehensively detail the law. Legislation forms only one of a number of sources.


Common law

Common law is an important legal source in Scotland, especially in
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
where a large body of legal precedent has been developed, so that many crimes, such as murder, are not Codification (law), codified. Sources of common law in Scotland are the decisions of the Scottish courts and certain rulings of the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
(including its predecessor the House of Lords Appellate Committee, House of Lords).The Criminal Courts
Healthy & Safety Executive, Retrieved 2011-10-22
The degree to which decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on Scottish courts in Civil law (common law), civil matters is controversial, especially where those decisions relate to cases brought from other legal jurisdictions; however, decisions of the Supreme Court in appeals from Scotland are considered binding precedent. In Criminal law, criminal cases the highest appellate court is the
Court of Justiciary The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of ...
and so the common law related to criminal law in Scotland has been largely developed only in Scotland. Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union also contribute to the common law in the interpretation of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
and
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
respectively. The common law of Scotland should not be confused with the common law of England, which has different historical roots.Stair, vol. 22, para. 359 (Online) Retrieved 2011-10-26 The historical roots of the common law of Scotland are the customary laws of the different cultures which inhabited the region, which were mixed together with feudal concepts by the List of Scottish monarchs, Scottish Kings to form a distinct common law. The influence that English-trained judges have had on the common law of Scotland through rulings of the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
(and formerly the House of Lords Appellate Committee, House of Lords) has been at times considerable, especially in areas of law where conformity was required across the United Kingdom for pragmatic reasons. This has resulted in rulings with strained interpretations of the common law of Scotland, such a
''Smith v Bank of Scotland''


Academic writings

A number of works by academic authors, called ''institutional writers'', have been identified as formal sources of law in Scotland since at least the 19th century. The exact list of authors and works, and whether it can be added to, is a matter of controversy.Stair, vol. 22, para. 538 (Online) Retrieved 2011-11-18 The generally accepted listStair, vol. 22, para. 537 (Online) Retrieved 2011-11-18 of institutional works are: *Thomas Craig (poet), Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton's ''Jus Feudale (1603)''; *James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair, Sir James Dalrymple, Viscount of Stair's ''Institutions of the law of Scotland (1681)''; *Bankton House, Andrew MacDouall, Lord Bankton's ''An Institute of the Laws of Scotland (1751–1753)''; *John Erskine of Carnock's ''An Institute of the Law of Scotland (1773)''; and, *George Joseph Bell's ''Commentaries on the Law of Scotland and on the Principles of Mercantile Jurisprudence (1804)'' and ''Principles of the Law of Scotland (1829)''. Some commentators would also consider the following works to be included: *George Mackenzie (lawyer), Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh's ''The Institutions of the Law of Scotland (1684)''; *John Erskine of Carnock's ''Principles of the Law of Scotland (1754)''; and, *Henry Home, Lord Kames' ''Principles of Equity (1760)'' The recognition of the authority of the institutional writers was gradual and developed with the significance in the 19th century of ''stare decisis''. The degree to which these works are authoritative is not exact. The view of University of Edinburgh School of Law, University of Edinburgh Professor Thomas Smith (barrister), Sir Thomas Smith was, "the authority of an institutional writer is approximately equal to that of a decision by a Division of the Inner House of the Court of Session".


Custom

John Erskine of Carnock, an institutional writer, described legal custom as, "that which, without any express enactment by the supreme power, derives force from its tacit consent; which consent is presumed from the inveterate or immemorial usage of the community." Legal custom in Scotland today largely plays a historical role, as it has been gradually eroded by statute and the development of the institutional writers' authority in the 19th century. Some examples do persist in Scotland, such as the influence of Udal law in Orkney and Shetland. However, its importance is largely historic with the last court ruling to cite customary law being decided in 1890.


Legal institutions


Government of Scotland

The Scottish Government, led by the First Minister of Scotland, First Minister, is responsible for formulating policy and implementing laws passed by the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
. The Scottish Parliament nominates one of its Members to be appointed as First Minister by the Elizabeth II, Queen.''Answers to Frequently Asked Questions''
The Scottish Parliament, Retrieved 2011-11-21
The First Minister of Scotland, First Minister is assisted by various Cabinet Secretaries with individual Ministry (government department), portfolios and remits, who are appointed by the First Minister of Scotland, First Minister with the approval of Parliament. Ministers are similarly appointed to assist Cabinet Secretaries in their work. The Scottish Law Officers, (the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland, Solicitor General) can be appointed from outside the Parliament's membership, but are subject to its approval. The First Minister, the Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and the Scottish Law Officers are the Members of the Scottish Government. They are collectively known as the "Scottish Ministers". The Scottish Government has executive responsibility for the Scottish legal system, with functions exercised by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans. The Justice Secretary has political responsibility for Policing in the United Kingdom, policing, law enforcement, the courts of Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service, fire services, Emergency preparedness, civil emergencies and civil justice.


Legislature

Many areas of Scots law are legislature, legislated for by the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
, in matters devolution, devolved from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Areas of Scots law over which the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
has competency include health, education, criminal justice, local government, environment and civil justice amongst others. However, certain powers are Reserved matters (Westminster), reserved to Westminster including Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), defence, Foreign relations of the United Kingdom, international relations, Economy of the United Kingdom, fiscal and economic policy, Prohibition (drugs), drugs law, and Media of the United Kingdom, broadcasting. The Scottish Parliament also has been granted limited tax raising powers. Although technically the Parliament of the United Kingdom retains full power to legislate for Scotland, under the Sewel convention it will not legislate on devolved matters without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.


Courts of Scotland


Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

All Scottish courts, except for the Court of the Lord Lyon, are administered by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. The Courts and Tribunals service is a non-ministerial government department with a corporate board chaired by the Lord President of the Court of Session (the head of the judiciary of Scotland.)


Criminal courts


=Justice of the peace courts

= Less serious criminal offences which can be dealt with under Summary offence, summary procedure are handled by local Justice of the Peace Courts. The maximum penalty which a normal Justice of the Peace can impose is 60 days imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £2,500.


=Sheriff courts

=
Sheriff Court A sheriff court is the principal local civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indep ...
s act as district criminal courts, organised by sheriffdom, and deal with cases under both Summary offence, summary and Indictable offence, solemn procedure. Cases can be heard either before a Summary Sheriff, a Sheriff, or a Sheriff and a jury. The maximum penalty which the Sheriff Court can impose, where heard just by a Sheriff or Summary Sheriff, is 12 months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £10,000. A case before a Sheriff and jury can result in up to 5 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine.Courts of law
Citizens Advice Bureau, Retrieved 2011-11-24
Appeals against conviction, summary convictions and sentence (law), summary sentences are heard by the Sheriff Appeal Court, and decisions of the Sheriff Appeal Court can only be appealed with leave to the High Court of Justiciary and then only on question of law, questions of law.


=High Court of Justiciary

= More serious crimes, and appeals from solemn proceedings in the Sheriff Courts, are heard by the High Court of Justiciary. There is no appeal available in criminal cases to the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
, with respect to points of criminal law. Cases where the accused alleges a breach of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
or
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
can also be referred or appealed to the UK Supreme Court for a ruling on the relevant alleged breach. In these cases the UK Supreme Court is the successor to the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
as the highest civil court having taken over the judicial functions of the House of Lords and the Privy Council from 2009.


Civil courts


=Sheriff courts

=
Sheriff Court A sheriff court is the principal local civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for indep ...
s also act as district civil courts with exclusive jurisdiction over all cases worth not more than , unless they are particularly complicated or of significant importance.Small claims actions
Shelter Scotland, Retrieved 2011-11-24
Ordinary cause actions
Shelter Scotland, Retrieved 2011-11-24
Personal injury actions may also be heard at the specialist all-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court, which has the power to hear cases before a jury trial, jury. Decisions of a Sheriff Court are appealed to the Sheriff Appeal Court. Further appeals are possible to the Inner House of the Court of Session, but only with the permission of either the Sheriff Appeal Court, or the Court of Session. Such appeals are granted if there is an important point of principle, or other compelling reason. Appeals may finally be taken to the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
, but only with the leave of either the Inner House or the Supreme Court itself, and it relates to a general point of public interest in the law.


=Court of Session

= Complicated or high-value cases can be heard at first instance by the Outer House of the Court of Session, with the Court of Session having concurrent jurisdiction for all cases with a monetary value of more than . Decisions of the Outer House are appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session, and (where allowed by the Inner House, or in matters relative to Devolution) then to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Scottish courts may make European Court of Justice#References for a preliminary ruling, a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union in cases involving
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
.


Specialist courts

There are also a number of specialist courts and tribunals that have been created to hear specific types of disputes. These include Children's Hearings, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, the Scottish Land Court and the Court of the Lord Lyon. The Employment Appeal Tribunal is also an example of a cross-jurisdictional tribunal.


Judiciary of Scotland

Scotland has several classes of
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
who sit in the various courts of Scotland, and led by the Lord President of the Court of Session who is head of the Scottish judiciary by virtue of Section 2 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. The second most senior judge is the Lord Justice Clerk, and together with the Senators of the College of Justice, Senators they constitute the
College of Justice The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a go ...
. The Senators are referred to as ''Lords of Council and Session'' when sitting in civil cases, and ''Lords Commissioners of Justiciary'' when sitting in criminal cases. The sheriff courts are presided over by the sheriff principal, Sheriffs Principal, sheriff court, Sheriffs, and Summary Sheriffs. They will preside over both civil and criminal cases. The most junior judges are the justice of the peace, justices of the peace who preside over minor criminal matters in the Justice of the Peace Courts.


Legal profession

The Scottish legal profession has two main branches, advocates and solicitors. Advocates, the equivalent of the English barristers, belong to the Faculty of Advocates which distinguishes between junior counsel and senior counsel, the latter being designated Queen's Counsel, King's or Queen's Counsel. Advocates specialise in presenting cases before Scottish courts, courts and tribunals, with near-exclusive rights of audience, and in giving legal opinions. They usually receive instructions indirectly from clients through solicitors, though in many circumstances they can be instructed directly by members of certain professional associations. Solicitors are members of the Law Society of Scotland and deal directly with their clients in all sorts of legal affairs. In the majority of cases they present their client's case to the court, and while traditionally they did not have the right to appear before the higher courts, since 1992 they have been able to apply for extended rights, becoming known as solicitor advocates. Notary public (Scotland), Notaries public, unlike civil law notary, their continental equivalent, are not members of a separate profession; they must be solicitors, and most solicitors are also notaries.


Branches of the law

The principal division in Scots law is between private law (laws governing the relationship between peopleincluding legal personality, legal persons) and public law (laws governing the relationship between the State and the people). Private law is further categorised into laws on Persons, Law of obligations, Obligations, Law of property, Property, Actions and Private International Law. The main subjects of public law are constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law and procedure.


Private law

*Bankruptcy *Company / Partnership *Scots contract law, Contract *Unilateral promise *Delict (Scots law), Delict *Unjustified enrichment *Employment *Scots family law, Family *Inheritance *Scots property law, Property *Trusts


Public law

*Scots administrative law, Administrative *Scots civil procedure, Civil procedure *Constitutional *Scots criminal law, Criminal *Tax


See also

*List of Scottish legal cases


Notes


References

*Barrow, Geofrey. ''Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000–1306''. Edinburgh University Press, 1989. *Boyle, Alan; Himsworth, Chris; Hector MacQueen, MacQueen, Hector
''Human Rights and Scots Law: Comparative Perspectives on the Incorporation of the ECHR''
Hart Publishing, 2002. *Bradley, Anthony Wilfred; Ewing, Keith D
''Constitutional and Administrative Law''
Pearson Education, 2007. *Davidson, Fraser; MacGregor, Laura. ''Commercial Law in Scotland''. W. Green & Son, 2008. *John Erskine of Carnock, Erskine, ''An Institute of the Law of Scotland'' *George Gretton, Gretton, George; Steven, Andrew. ''Property, Trusts and Successions''. Tottel Publishing, 2009. *Jones, Timothy; Christie, Michael. ''Criminal Law''. W. Green & Son, 2008. *Palmer, Veron
''Mixed jurisdictions worldwide: the third legal family''
Cambridge University Press, 2001. *Reid, Kenneth; Zimmerman, Reinhard
''A History of Private Law in Scotland: I. Introduction and Property''
Oxford University Press, 2000. *Reid, Kenneth; Zimmerman, Reinhard
''A History of Private Law in Scotland: II. Obligations''
Oxford University Press, 2000. *Thomas Smith (barrister), Smith, Thomas. ''A Short Commentary on the Law of Scotland''. Green & Son Ltd, 1962. *Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, ''The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia''
Lexis Library
*Tetley, William Q.C
''Mixed Jurisdictions: common law vs. civil law (codified and uncodified)''
4 Uniform L. rev. (N.S.), 1999. *Thomson, Stephen
''Mixed Jurisdiction and the Scottish Legal Tradition: Reconsidering the Concept of Mixture''
(2014) 7(1) Journal of Civil Law Studies 51-91 *White, Robin; Willock, Ian. ''The Scottish Legal System''. Tottel Publishing, 2007.


External links

* * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Scots Law Scots law,