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.