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.