Judiciary of Scotland

The judiciary of Scotland are the judicial office holders who sit in the courts of Scotland and make decisions in both civil and criminal cases. Judges make sure that cases and verdicts are within the parameters set by Scots law, and they must hand down appropriate judgments and sentences. Judicial independence is guaranteed in law, with a legal duty on Scottish Ministers, the Lord Advocate and the Members of the Scottish Parliament to uphold judicial independence, and barring them from influencing the judges through any form of special access.

Judiciary of Scotland
Agency overview
FormedEarly Middle Ages
HeadquartersJudicial Office for Scotland, Parliament House, Edinburgh, EH1 1RQ
Annual budget£51.7 million (2013-14)[1]
Agency executives
Parent departmentScottish Courts and Tribunals Service
Scotland in the UK and Europe

The Lord President of the Court of Session is the head of Scotland's judiciary and the presiding judge of the College of Justice (which consists of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary.) As of May 2016, the Lord President was Lord Carloway, who was appointed in December 2015 having previously served as Lord Justice Clerk. The Lord President is supported by the Judicial Office for Scotland which was established on 1 April 2010 as a result of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008, and the Lord President chairs the corporate board of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

The second most senior judge is the Lord Justice Clerk, and the other judges are called of the College of Justice are called Senators. When sitting in the Court of Session Senators are known as Lords of Council and Session and when sitting in the High Court of Justiciary they are known as Lords Commissioners of Justiciary. There are also some temporary judges who carry out the same work on a part-time basis.

Scotland's sheriffs deal with most civil and criminal cases. There are 6 sheriffdoms, each administered by a sheriff principal. Sheriffs principal and sheriffs are legally qualified, and previously serve as either advocates or solicitors, though many are also Queen's Counsel. Summary sheriffs deal exclusively with cases under summary procedure, and some advocates and solicitors serve as part-time sheriffs. In 2014, Justice of the Peace courts replaced the previous district courts. In Justice of the Peace courts, lay justices of the peace work with a legally qualified clerk of court who gives advice on law and procedure. Justices of the peace handle minor criminal matters.