The Justice of the peace court.

Minor offences dealt with by JP courts include breach of the peace, assaults, petty thefts, and offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

The JP courts have the power to sentence imprisonment for a period not exceeding sixty days, a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or to find caution in lieu of or in addition to such imprisonment or fine for proper conduct for any period not exceeding six months and in an amount not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale; or failing payment of such fine or on failure to find such caution, imprisonment in proportion to the amount of the fine, etc. After a conviction, the court has the same powers as the sheriff court, such as issuing a disqualification order under section 40 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, as well as disqualifying a driver. Increasingly serious cases have been sent to JP courts since their powers were expanded in 2007. The Sheriff Appeal Court has jurisdiction over their judgments, but further appeals to the High Court of Justiciary can only be made on a point of law.

It is possible for a judge to sign duties personally, such as granting search warrants and emergency child protection orders.

Scotland’s Justice of the Peace courts handle low-level summary prosecutions. Shoplifting, public order offences, and traffic offenses are typical cases. An unqualified layperson – a Justice of the Peace – preside over the court with the assistance of a qualified legal assessor.

This forum is where we conduct a large amount of business each year. We have downgraded many cases to the Justice of the Peace court in recent years and secured many acquittals in all sorts of cases.

Majority of road traffic prosecutions in Scotland are handled by Justice of the Peace courts.


The Sheriff Court.

Sheriff courts are the principal local civil and criminal courts in Scotland. They have exclusive jurisdiction over civil cases with a value of up to £100,000, and over criminal cases except for treason, murder, and rape, which are heard by the High Court of Justice. Despite the fact that the sheriff courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court over armed robbery, drug trafficking, and sexual offenses against children, the High Court hears the majority of these cases. One of the six sheriffdoms of Scotland is served by each court. Sheriff courts are presiding over by sheriffs, who are legally qualified judges and part of the Scottish judiciary.

Sheriff courts hear civil cases as bench trials without juries, and make decisions and judgments on their own. However, the specialist all-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court (located in Edinburgh) is able to hear cases at trial with a jury of twelve. Sheriff courts hold criminal trials on complaint as bench trials for summary offenses, and as trials with juries of fifteen for indictable offenses. In cases heard on complaint, a person may be sentenced to a maximum of twelve months imprisonment and/or a fine of £10,000, and in solemn cases up to five years of imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

You may appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court the decisions of the sheriff courts in criminal cases handled by summary procedures, and civil cases handled by small claims and summary process. Indictments under solemn procedure are appealed to the High Court of Justice. A civil action may also be appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session.

In Scotland, most prosecutions are handled by the Sheriff Courts. In Scotland, there are currently 46 Sheriff Courts, with some slated for closure in the coming years. Sherriff courts have both summary and solemn levels of prosecution, with decisions on guilt or innocence made by Sheriffs on the summary level and by juries on the solemn level.

Each day, our solicitors conduct trials, proofs, debates, bail applications and pleas in all Sheriff Courts in Scotland. As a result, we have a wealth of experience dealing with all types and levels of prosecution in the Sheriff Court.

You can contact our highly experienced solicitors if you need advice or representation in connection with any Sheriff Court prosecutions right away.

High Court of Justiciary on Saltmarket, Glasgow

The High Court.

Scotland’s supreme criminal court is the High Court of Justiciary. It is a trial court as well as an appeals court. Generally, the High Court sits as a trial court in Parliament House, the adjacent former Sheriff Court building in Edinburgh’s Old Town, or in dedicated buildings in Glasgow and Aberdeen. In Scotland, the High Court sometimes holds hearings at local sheriff court buildings in smaller towns. In Scotland, the High Court sits exclusively in Edinburgh. 

The High Court of Justiciary is Scotland‘s most senior criminal court. Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen are its three permanent locations. Depending on the pressure of business, the High Court can also convene at any Sheriff Court in the country.

The High Court of Justiciary is the highest court in Scotland, hearing only the most serious cases. Murder, rape, and high-level drug supply cases are prosecuted only in the High Court. Advocates and Solicitor Advocates specialising in the practice of trials in the High Court conduct trials.

Every year we have many acquittals in the High Court. We have experience preparing defences, recognizing witnesses, reviewing evidence, drafting legal documents, and instructing attorneys. Our firm is one of the largest High Court practices in Scotland and has handled every type of High Court prosecution imaginable throughout years.

His deputy is the Lord Justice Clerk, who holds office ex officio by virtue of being the Lord President of the Court of Session. The Lord Justice General is the president of the High Court. Those remaining judges are the Lords Commissioners of Justice, who hold office ex officio by virtue of being appointed as Senators of the College of Justice and Judges of the Court of Session. Trials in a court of first instance are usually heard by a jury of 15 and a single Lord Commissioner of Justiciary; the jury can convict by a majority vote. In an appeal court, the hearings are always held without a jury, with two judges hearing appeals against sentences, and three judges hearing appeals against convictions. The High Court hears appeals from the sheriff courts in Scotland where the trial was under solemn proceedings; it will also hear referrals on points of law from the Sheriff Appeal Court, and from summary proceedings in the sheriff courts and justice of the peace courts in Scotland. Sheriff courts may refer cases to the High Court for sentencing if they believe that their sentencing powers are inadequate. The High Court can impose a life sentence, but the sheriff can only impose a five-year sentence. Both can impose an unlimited fine.

As of May 2017, the Lord Justice General was Lord Carloway, and the Lord Justice Clerk was Lady Dorrian, and there were 35 Lords Commissioners of Justice.


The Appeal Court.

A court of appeals, appellate court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that has the authority to hear an appeal from a trial court or other lower tribunal. A court system usually consists of at least three levels: the trial court, which hears cases and reviews evidence and testimony to decide the facts of the case; at least one intermediate appellate court; and a supreme court (or court of last resort), which reviews intermediate court decisions, usually on a discretionary basis. As a jurisdiction’s highest court, its supreme court acts as its highest appellate court. The rules governing appellate courts vary from state to state.

From one jurisdiction to another, appellate courts have different powers regarding review of lower court decisions. An appellate court may only have limited review power in some areas. A judgment is generally the final directive of an appellate court in the matter being appealed. Specifically, it outlines whether the appealed action should be affirmed, reversed, remanded or modified.

Located at Lawnmarket in Edinburgh, the Court of Criminal Appeal is part of the High Court of Justice. The Court hears appeals from summary and solemn level prosecutions in Scotland.

Despite our efforts to acquit in all trial matters, there are some cases in which justice is not served. Such cases must be appealed. We have a team of solicitors who are very experienced with Scottish appeal law. Throughout the years, we have successfully appealed a wide variety of convictions and sentences.