Sheriff Court

Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.

Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:

*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases
*Large and Small estates upon a death
*Fine payments
*Civil actions under Ordinary, Summary Cause and Small Claim Procedures
*Adoption Cases
*Bankruptcy Actions

Functions and operation

The legal cases which are heard within the Courts are dealt with by a Sheriff. A Sheriff is a Judge who is usually assigned to work in a specific Court although some work as 'floating Sheriffs' who may work anywhere in Scotland. There are about a hundred and forty full-time Sheriffs in the various Courts and a number of part-time Sheriffs. They are appointed on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland. Until recently there were also 'temporary sheriffs' who were appointed by the executive year by year and only sat for particular days by invitation; this class of sheriff was abolished as being inconsistent with judicial independence following the decision of the High Court of Justiciary in Starrs v Ruxton. [ [ "Hugh Latta Starrs and James Wilson Chalmers and Bill of Advocation for Procurator Fiscal, Linlithgow v. Procurator Fiscal, Linlithgow and Hugh Latta Starrs and James Wilson Chalmers (1999) ScotHC 242"] , November 11 1999, British and Irish Legal Information Institute, accessed September 16 2007]


The Courts are staffed by civil servants who are employed by the Scottish Court Service which is an executive agency of the Scottish Executive. The Scottish Court Service publishes an online map, lists of Sheriffs, and the rules of the court under different procedures.


There are six Sheriffdoms in Scotland, each with a Sheriff Principal. Within each sheriffdom are sheriff court districts, each with a court presided over by one or more sheriffs. The most senior civil servant in each Court is the Sheriff Clerk and he or she is charged directly with the management of the Court. The Sherriffdoms are Glasgow and Strathkelvin, Grampian, Highland and Islands, Lothian and Borders, North Strathclyde, South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, and Tayside Central and Fife. [ [ "Quick Guide to the Sheriffdoms in Scotland"] , Scottish Law Online, accessed September 16 2007]

There are currently 49 Sheriff Courts in Scotland. [James Douglas-Hamilton (ed.), [ "The Sheriff Court Districts (Alteration of Boundaries) Order 1996"] , Office of Public Sector Information, March 29 1996, accessed September 16 2007] Some, in rural areas of Scotland, are small due to the sparse population. Courts such as those in the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow have a large number of staff and can in one day deal with hundreds of cases. Glasgow Sheriff Court, for example, is the busiest Court in Europe.

Relationship to other courts

Sheriff Courts are above local District Courts who deal with very minor offences and below the Supreme Courts. The High Court of Justiciary deals with serious criminal matters, such as Murder, and the Court of Session is Scotland's supreme civil court.

Any final decision of a Sheriff may be appealed. There is a right of appeal in civil cases to the Sheriff Principal, and in most cases onwards to the Court of Session. Criminal decisions are appealed to the High Court of Justiciary.

So far as civil procedure is concerned, there are different sets of rules for small claims (payment of up to £3000); summary causes (mostly eviction actions)and monetary value between £3000 and £5000; and ordinary causes (the rest). These are all published online, and direct links to them are on [ this page] .

ee also

*Courts of Scotland
*Scots law


External links

* [ Scottish Court Service]
* [ Scottish Executive]
* [ MiniTrial Information for Schools on Scottish Justice]
* [ Faculty of Advocates]
* [ Law Society of Scotland]
* [ Jurisdiction of Scottish courts]
* [ Scottish Legal Aid Board]
* [ Judicial Appointments Board]
* [ Judicial Appointments Board description of post of Sheriff]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • sheriff court — noun (in Scotland) a court having jurisdiction over civil and most criminal cases • • • Main Entry: ↑sheriff * * * sheriff court UK US noun [countable] [singular sheriff court plural …   Useful english dictionary

  • sheriff court — sheriff .court also sheriff s .court n the lower court of law in Scotland, dealing with ↑civil and criminal cases …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sheriff court — ► NOUN ▪ (in Scotland) a court for civil cases, equivalent to a county court …   English terms dictionary

  • sheriff court — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms sheriff court : singular sheriff court plural sheriff courts a court of law in Scotland where most types of crime are judged …   English dictionary

  • sheriff court — n (in Scotland) a type of court of law where the sheriff (= a Scottish title for a judge) deals with less serious criminal and civil cases. Serious crimes such as murder are dealt with in the High Court of Justiciary and serious civil cases go to …   Universalium

  • sheriff court — noun (in Scotland) a court for civil cases, equivalent to a county court …   English new terms dictionary

  • Glasgow Sheriff Court — is the main Court in Glasgow. It is located in the Gorbals area of the city and is the busiest court in Europe. ref|StrathclydePThe Sheriff Court lies within the Sheriffdom of Glasgow Strathkelvin. The current (as of June 2007) Sheriff Principal… …   Wikipedia

  • Court of Session — redirects here. For other uses, see Court of Session (disambiguation). Court of Session Logo of the Court of Session Established 1532 …   Wikipedia

  • sheriff — sher·iff n [Old English scīrgerēfa, from scīr shire + gerēfa reeve (king s agent)]: an official of a county or parish charged primarily with judicial duties (as executing the processes and orders of courts and judges) Merriam Webster’s Dictionary …   Law dictionary

  • sheriff officer — noun (in Scotland) an officer connected with the sheriff court, who is responsible for raising actions, enforcing decrees, ensuring attendance of witnesses, etc • • • Main Entry: ↑sheriff …   Useful english dictionary

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