Scottish Courts Hierarchy

The administration of justice in Scotland is the responsibility of the civil, criminal and heraldic courts of the country.  In Scotland, courts are divided on the cases of the types of cases they hear and these include civil and criminal.

The Court of Session is the Supreme Civil Court in the country whereas the High Court of Justiciary is the Supreme Criminal Court.  There is a hierarchy structure followed within each brand of the judicial system of Scotland. To understand this hierarchy better, you can read the following given information.

Scottish courts hierarchyCivil Courts

  • The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

This is the highest civil court of appeal for Scotland and hears appeals from all civil courts of the UK and the criminal, civil courts of England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Court of Session

This is the Supreme Civil court which ranks 2nd on the hierarchy of Civil courts in Scotland and is both court of appeal as well as that of the first instance. The first instance court is called the Outer house and the appeal court is known as the Inner House.

  • Sheriff Court

This is the 3rd level civil court in Scotland which sits locally.  A number of high value cases or the difficult cases in the country are brought in the sessions court.

Criminal Courts

  • High Court of Justiciary

This is the supreme or the main criminal court in Scotland and is both a court of appeal as well as that of appeal. There is no other petition or appeal from the High court’s decision.

  • Sheriff Court

This is the primary criminal court in Scotland and sits locally and comes at the second position as far as importance and power is concerned within the criminal courts.

  • District Court

Each district court is composed of either one or more of Justices of Peace who either sit alone or in groups of 3s with a qualified or capable UK legal system assessor. District courts handle those kinds of cases that are related to violation of the peace, minor assaults, offences, petty theft, and drunkenness etc.

  • Justice of the Peace Courts

Tribunals and Special Courts:

Scotland has several tribunals or special courts:

  • Tribunals

The Tribunals preside in judgement over several types of specialist areas and some of the tribunals are:

  • Employment tribunal
  • Asylum and immigration tribunal
  • Mental health tribunal for Scotland
  • VAT and duties tribunal
  • Pensions Appeal Tribunals for Scotland
  • Children’s hearings
  • Court of the lord Lyon
  • Court martial
  • General assembly of the church of Scotland