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Outline And Describe The Structure And Jurisdiction Of The Scottish Criminal And Civil Courts. Give Examples Of The Types Of Cases These Courts Will Hear And Indicate Which Scottish Legal Personnel You Would Expect To Find There.

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Outline and describe the structure and jurisdiction of the Scottish criminal and civil courts. Give examples of the types of cases these courts will hear and indicate which Scottish legal personnel you would expect to find there.

Scottish courts are divided into two distinct and separate systems, each with its own jurisdiction and terminology. As stated above these are the civil and criminal courts.

First of all I will look into the structure and jurisdiction of the civil courts. The civil court deals with disputes between individuals, companies or public bodies and can be in extremely diverse areas of law. Civil cases are said to be adversarial. This means that the judge will hear legal argument and evidence from all parties and then make a judgement based on the Ð''balance of probabilities'. It should be noted that the standard of proof required is not as high as that of in the criminal courts.

Regarding the structure of the civil courts it is split in to three different sections. We have The Sheriff Court, The Court of Session and The House of Lords.

The Sheriff Court is the busiest court as it deals with both civil and criminal cases. Scotland is divided into six areas known as sheriffdoms. Theses sheriffdoms are; Grampian, Highlands and Islands; Tayside, Central and Fife; Lothian and Borders; Glasgow and Strathkelvin; North Strathclyde and South Strathclyde Dumfries and Galloway. The sheriffdoms are further divided into 49 sheriff court districts. Each sheriffdom has a sheriff principal who administers the work and is assisted by the other sheriffs.

The sheriff court has very wide jurisdiction as regards the subject matter it can deal with. Jurisdiction concerns the subject matter of the claim and the geographical location of the parties. Firstly, jurisdiction is limited to persons who are resident within or have some association, e.g. business ownership, with the sheriffdom in which the court is situated. With regards to property the case will be heard in the court which has jurisdiction over the property. Similarly, with regards to contracts, the case will be raised in the court with jurisdiction over the geographical area in which the contract was to be performed.

Actions for debt and damages of any amount can be heard in the sheriff court and a claim of less than Ð'Ј1500 has to be in the sheriff court. Other examples of areas of law that are seen in the sheriff court are as follows; separation and divorce, custody of children and maintenance, consumer complaints, personal injury claims, disputes regarding succession or trusts, breach of contract and defamation, bankruptcy and the winding up of company's which share capital less than Ð'Ј120,000.

The sheriff court is said to be a court of first instance. This means that cases will be started and determined there. There are three different procedures in the event of an appeal. Small claims can be appealed directly to the sheriff principal. Summary causes are directed to the sheriff principal and passed onto the Court of Session if he deems it appropriate. Finally, ordinary causes can go directly to the Court of Session.

The Court of Session has jurisdiction over the whole of Scotland and sits only in Edinburgh. It is a court of first instance and appeal. The court is divided into what is referred to as the Outer and Inner House.

The Outer House is the court of first instance. There is a staff of 22 judges. Each case is heard by a single judge, known as Lord Ordinary. It is possible to seek a jury trial in the Outer House but is uncommon and is confined to narrow range of uncomplicated cases. The Outer House has jurisdiction over all the same matters as the sheriff for those over which the lower court has exclusive jurisdiction.

The Inner House is basically the appeal court. The Inner House comprises 11 judges and is divided into two divisions, simply called the first and second divisions. The two divisions have the same authority and jurisdiction. For most appeals, only three judges, called Lords of Session, will sit but if the matter is particularly difficult or important a bench of five or seven judges may convene. The Inner House seldom listens to evidence and determines appeals from the legal arguments presented to it. Decisions are determined by a majority vote of the judges. After this there is a right to further appeal and must be done so by means of petition to the House of Lords.

The House of Lords is the final court of appeal for civil cases from Scotland. It hears appeals from the Inner House of The Court of Session on questions of both fact and law unless the case was begun in the sheriff court, when the appeal must be on a question of law. There are twelve law lords of whom normally two will be Scottish trained judges. Although it is not a rule that a Scottish judge sits to hear an appeal from Scotland, it is usual for at least one of the five judges to be Scottish. After the House of Lords have passed judgement they relay the return the case to the Inner House of the Court of Session for them to give effect to the judgement.

Now we will move on the structure and jurisdiction of the criminal courts within the Scottish legal system. The first point I would like to highlight is that the Scottish criminal court system distinguishes between offences that can be tried without a jury, called summary procedure and those that are tried on indictment with a jury, called solemn procedure.

The criminal system is also subdivided into four different courts. These are the District Court or the Justice of the Peace courts, the Sheriff Court, the High Court of Justiciary as a trial court and the High Court of Justiciary as an appeal court.

With regards to whether a case is sent to the District Court or the Sheriff Court the decision is decided on the basis of the following. It depends on the seriousness of the offence; the sentence which can be imposed; whether the sheriff court is very busy and perhaps also on the proficiency of the judges.

The District Court is soon to be renamed the Justice of the Peace Court. So, it deals with minor crimes such as breach of the peace and drunkenness, as some road traffic offences. The crimes are tried by summary procedure. The judge in the District Court can be either a lay justice of the peace who will be assisted by a legally qualified clerk of the court, or a stipendiary magistrate, who is himself legally qualified. The area covered by the court is called the commission area and the justices are appointed to hold a commission for that area alone. There is a Justices Committee that oversees all court administration and makes sure that it is staffed in cooperation with the clerk of the court, who must be a solicitor or an advocate. The court has jurisdiction over any summary case which occurs

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