The civil law covers a number of areas such as the buying and selling of houses, marriage and family law, and debts etc.
Court Of Session
This is the supreme civil court in Scotland which is based in Edinburgh. It is both a court for initial considerations and the court of appeal for most civil matters.
It consists of an inner house and an outer house. The inner house deals with the appeals but can also deal with a range of first instance businesses. The outer house deals with first instance cases. This is also where the appeals are heard from the Sheriff Court and from certain tribunals and other bodies.
The court of session deals with instances which are more complicated and cannot be dealt with in lower court cases.
This is the local court and there are 49 across Scotland. It deals with most civil cases. Less serious cases are dealt with here, such as debt, claims for compensation, family matters such as divorce, eviction, anti-social behaviour (such as fighting, not murder) etc.
These also sit in Scotland and cover a wide range of subjects such as education, employment, children’s hearings etc. Most cases are heard in the major cities of Scotland, i.e. Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Tribunals are supervised by the Scottish Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council.
Solemn courts cover the most serious cases such as murder and rape. They involve a jury consisting of 15 people and an 8-7 majority will surfice. Summary courts cover the less serious cases and do not involve a jury only a single judge who will find the accused guilty or non guilty.
Often called a police court as they are often found in police stations. The judge is called a Magistrate and most are lay-magistrates as they are not paid because they are volunteered members of the public. The deal with much less serious cases. They appeal to the High Court of Judiciary.
The judge is called a Sheriff and are trained solicitors or advocates. It deals with crimes such as house breaking and minor assaults. Cases are appealed to the High Court of Judiciary. They deal with more serious offences e.g. theft, assault, possession of drugs.
It can be solemn or summary.
Solicitors Most lawyers in Scotland are solicitors. They deal with a wide range of legal matters. There are about 5,000 solicitors in Scotland. They are allowed to represent their clients in District and Sheriff Courts but are not allowed to represent clients in the higher courts. Advocate There are about 400 advocates in Scotland. They are the specialists of the legal profession. They can represent their clients in all the courts of Scotland. Advocates are ‘instructed’ by a solicitor. This means that a person appearing in Court on a serious charge will have to employ a solicitor and an advocate
These courts deal with the most serious of crimes such as violent murder, rape armed robbery and drug dealing. The judges in these courts have the honorary title of Lord. If necessary, they appeal to the Scottish Criminal Court of Appeal which only deals with cases in which the accused is appealing on the decision of a lower court. This is where the judges hear appeals.
The maximum penalties is an unlimited fine and life imprisonment.