Scottish Legal Hierarchy

The British Parliament has the power to make laws on all matters relating to Scotland, although under the Sewel Convention it does not do so in devolved affairs without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. [34] [35] The Human Rights Act 1998, the Scotland Act 1998 and the European Communities Act 1972 have special status in Scots law. [36] Modern laws specify that they apply to Scotland and may also contain specific wording to reflect the unique elements of the legal system. Laws must receive the Queen`s Royal Approval before becoming law, but this is now only a formal and automatic procedure. [37] The legislation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom cannot be revoked by the courts, as Parliament is supposed to have the highest legal authority; However, the application of legislation is subject to judicial review and, even in practice, Parliament will tend not to create legislation contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998 or European law, although it is technically free to do so. [38] The extent to which Parliament has relinquished this sovereignty is controversial, and generally concerns what the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union should be. [39] [40] Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom regularly confer on ministers of the Crown or other bodies the power to legislate in the form of statutes. These delegated acts produce legal effects in Scotland, provided that the specific provisions of the Regulation are duly approved by the powers of the Act, a matter which is subject to judicial review. The courts are another source of law in Scotland, and the doctrine of precedent operates in the hierarchy of the courts. Decisions of the Supreme Court (or House of Lords) in Scottish appeals are binding on all lower Scottish courts.

The decisions of the Inner Chamber of the Court of Session are also binding, but those of the single judges of the Outer Chamber, sheriffs or justices of the peace are not. English cases can have persuasive authority in Scottish courts, as can decisions in mixed courts such as South Africa. Scottish law, Scottish legal practices and institutions. In Scotland, the legal profession is divided between lawyers and lawyers. In addition to individual practitioners and high street practices, Scotland is home to many renowned law firms including Brodies, Dundas and Wilson, Burness, Dickson Minto and Shepherd and Wedderburn. Lawyers can appear in JP and sheriff`s courts as well as in the courts. There are also lawyers who have extensive hearing rights and can appear before the Scottish High Courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of the Justiciary. Criminal proceedings can be either solemn, which means that the trial takes place before a judge and a 15-member jury, or summary, which takes place before a single judge. There are three levels of criminal courts in Scotland. At one end of the scale are justices of the peace, who deal with minor issues.

Justices of the peace are not legally qualified, but are advised on legal and procedural matters by a qualified clerk. They have limited criminal powers and can impose a jail sentence of up to 60 days or a fine of up to £2,500. The next level is the sheriff`s courts. Scotland is divided into six sheriffdoms: Glasgow and Strathkelvin; Grampian, Highland and Islands; Lothian and Borders; North Strathclyde; South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway; and Tayside, Central and Fife. Each of them is headed by a head sheriff and has different judicial districts with individual sheriff`s courts. These courts deal with summary and statutory prosecutions and the Glasgow Sheriff`s Court is considered the busiest court in Europe. The Scottish Government has executive responsibility for the Scottish legal system, with functions performed by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Affairs. The Minister for Justice is responsible for the police, law enforcement, Scottish courts in Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service, the fire brigade, civil emergencies and civil justice. Early Scottish law before the 12th century consisted of the diverse legal traditions of the different cultural groups inhabiting the country at the time, the Gaels in most of the country, with the British and Anglo-Saxons in some districts south of the Forth, and with the Scandinavians on the islands and north of the River Oykel. The introduction of feudalism from the 12th century and the expansion of the Kingdom of Scotland established the modern roots of Scots law, which was gradually influenced by others, particularly the Anglo-Norman and continental legal traditions. Although there was an indirect influence of Roman law on Scots law, the direct influence of Roman law was weak until about the 15th century. After this period, Roman law was often adopted in an adapted form by the courts, where there was no native Scottish rule for settling a dispute; and Roman law was thus partially incorporated into Scots law.

All devolved Scottish laws are also required by law to maintain regulatory compliance with all future EU legislation under the provisions of the United Kingdom`s withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2020, passed by the Scottish Parliament in December 2020. [7] It received Royal Assent on January 29, 2021 and became operational on the same day. Lawyers, the equivalent of English lawyers, belong to the Faculty of Advocates, which distinguishes between junior and senior lawyers, the latter being called King`s Counsel or Queen`s Counsel. Lawyers specialize in presenting cases before the courts with almost exclusive hearing rights and in providing legal opinions. They usually receive instructions from clients indirectly through lawyers, although in many cases they may be directed directly by members of certain professional associations. [ref. needed] Acts passed by the Scottish Parliament before 1707 still have legal effect in Scotland, although the number of laws that have not been repealed is limited. Examples are the Royal Mines Act 1424, which makes gold and silver mines the property of the Queen, and the Leases Act 1449, which is still invoked today in property law cases. [45] Solicitors are members of the Law Society of Scotland and deal directly with their clients in all possible legal matters.

In most cases, they take their client`s case to court and, although they have traditionally not had the right to appear before higher courts, since 1992 they can apply for extensive rights and become known as solicitor advocates. The notary, unlike its continental equivalent, is not a member of a separate profession; They must be lawyers, and most lawyers are also notaries. [ref. needed] Scottish law (Scottish Gaelic: Lagh na h-Alba) is the legal system of Scotland. It is a hybrid or mixed legal system with civil and customary elements, rooted in a number of different historical sources. [1] [2] [3] Along with English law and Northern Irish law, it is one of the three legal systems of the United Kingdom. [4] On the other hand, the Parliament of Great Britain was not limited to amending laws on public law, politics and civil government, but as far as private law was concerned, changes were only permitted for the obvious benefit of the subjects in Scotland. The Scottish Enlightenment then revived Scottish law as an academic discipline. The transfer of legislative power to London and the lodging of appeals in civil but not criminal cases in the House of Lords (now on appeal to the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) brought additional English influence. Acts of Parliament began to create uniform legal standards that applied in both England and Scotland, particularly where compliance was deemed necessary for pragmatic reasons (such as the Sale of Goods Act 1893). Appeals by English judges raised concerns about this appeal to a foreign system, and in the late 19th century laws allowed for the appointment of Scottish Lords of Appeal in ordinary.

At the same time, it became clear in a number of cases that the High Court of Justice could not appeal to the House of Lords. Today, the UK Supreme Court usually has at least two Scottish judges to ensure that Scottish experience is applied in Scottish appeals. [32] When the parliaments of England and Scotland were united in 1707, the legal systems of the two countries were very different.