Attending Court

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Some people, such as judges, lawyers, police officers and journalists, are usually quite familiar with the courts and court proceedings. But others might be worried at the prospect of going to court.

All courts must meet certain standards and provide appropriate facilities. For instance, witnesses for the prosecution and defence will be kept apart in separate witness areas. Also, understanding will be shown to jurors who may be apprehensive about jury service. Victims, including bereaved next of kin, will be treated with compassion and respect.

Courts vary depending on the types of cases they hear. The most serious and complex cases are heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh and the High Court of Justiciary, which sits in cities and larger towns around Scotland. The majority of cases are dealt with in the country’s 39 Sheriff Courts. Less serious criminal matters are heard in Justice of the Peace Courts. There are differences in the procedures followed in civil and criminal court hearings. Sometimes the layout of the courtrooms is also different.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is committed to treating all court users in the same professional manner and provides additional information here.

If you want to raise or defend an action, apply for a divorce or have a query about a will there is some helpful advice available on the SCTS website, by clicking Taking Action on their home page.

 For further information on attending court as a witness, giving evidence, paying fines and jury service, please visit the website.

Related FAQs

Q.Are courts always open to the public? Can anyone attend court?
Q.Can I bring my child into court with me? What age do you have to be to attend court?
Q.How do I address a judge in court?
Q.What do you do when you arrive at a court for jury service or as a witness?
Q.What happens if I am late for court or break any of the other rules?
Q.What should I wear in court?

View all related FAQs

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) is responsible for providing the staff, buildings and technology to support Scotland’s courts, the work of the independent judiciary, the courts’ Rules Councils and the Office of the Public Guardian. The Board of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is chaired by the Lord President. Visit the SCTS website for details of daily court business including court locations, contact numbers, rules, guidance and advice for both professional users and members of the public.

Find out more about attending court