Attending Court

Parliament HallClick to enlarge image

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.

Message from the Lord President


Welcome to the judicial website. We hope that you find this website both helpful and informative. It is our intention to publish as much information as we can, as quickly as we can. We believe it is vital in a democracy that justice is not only seen to be done, but that it operates in an open and transparent way and contributes to public understanding and awareness of what takes place in courts each day across Scotland.

Lord President

Determination following examination of facts in HMA v Alan McDonald

Wednesday, 18 July, 2018
Sentencing Statement

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 18 July 2018, Temporary Judge Craig A L Scott QC found that the accused Alan McDonald raped and indecently assaulted two children following an examination of facts, and made no order in terms of section 57(2)(e) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

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Ineos Upstream Ltd and another v Lord Advocate

Tuesday, 19 June, 2018
Court Opinion

A petition seeking judicial review of certain acts and decisions of the Scottish Government in implementation of what was purportedly an indefinite ban on “fracking” has been refused. The Court of Session held that the legal effect of certain statements and planning directions made by the Scottish Ministers to the effect that the Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland, and a subsequent decision that the directions should continue in force indefinitely, is that there is in fact no prohibition against fracking in force. The following is a summary of the detailed opinion issued by Lord Pentland.

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