Addressing a Judge

Want to know how to address a judge in court or in writing?

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Senior Judges

The title of Scotland’s most senior judge reflects his or her position as head of both the civil courts (Lord President) and the criminal courts (Lord Justice General).  He or she, as Lord President, is also the head of the judiciary.  On appointment to the Bench, he or she is given a judicial title, then he or she will be known as Lord President and Lord Justice General on taking these offices. The Lord President is a Privy Counsellor and may be a Peer.

The Lord President In Correspondence Dear... In Court
Civil (If a Peer) The Right Honourable the Lord Smith Lord President of the Court of Session Lord President My Lord
Criminal (If a Peer) The Right Honourable the Lord Smith Lord Justice General of Scotland Lord Justice General My Lord
If not a Peer The Right Honourable Lord Smith Lord President of the Court of Session /  Lord Justice General of Scotland Lord President
My Lord

The Lord Justice Clerk also receives a judicial title on appointment as a judge, but like the Lord President, he or she is always described by his or her office. The Lord Justice Clerk will also be a Privy Counsellor, and may be a Peer.

The Lord Justice Clerk In Correspondence Dear... In Court
If not a Peer The Right Honourable Lord Smith Lord Justice Clerk Lord Justice Clerk My Lord
If a Peer The  Right Honourable the Lord Smith Lord Justice Clerk Lord Justice Clerk My Lord

Senators of the College of Justice

Judges of the Court of Session (the supreme civil court), who are also the judges of the High Court of Justiciary (the supreme criminal court), are appointed by HM The Queen as Senators of the College of Justice.  On appointment, a senator will take a judicial title by which he or she will be known both in office and on retirement. The courtesy style of “Lord” or “Lady” should be distinguished from a peerage title, but some judges are in fact Peers. Judges of the Outer House of the Court of Session will have the prefix “Honourable” to their title. Judges of the Inner House will be Privy Counsellors, conferring on them the prefix “Right Honourable”. The Chairman of the Scottish Land Court is addressed in the same way as a judge of the Court of Session.

Office/ Position In Correspondence Dear... In Court
When not a Privy Counsellor The Honourable Lord/Lady Smith Lord/Lady Smith My Lord/Lady
Privy Counsellor The Right Honourable Lord/Lady Smith Lord/Lady Smith My Lord/Lady
Privy Counsellor and Peer The Right Honourable the Lord/Lady Smith Lord/Lady Smith My Lord/Lady

Sheriffs Principal and Sheriffs

Office In Correspondence Dear... In Court
Sheriff Principal Sheriff Principal Smith
(QC should be added where applicable)
Sheriff Principal Smith My Lord/Lady
Sheriff Sheriff Smith (QC) Sheriff Smith My Lord/Lady

 Justices of the Peace

Office In Correspondence In Court
Justices of the Peace No judicial title (simply Mr/Mrs/Miss etc.) Your Honour

Related FAQs

Q.Are you allowed to speak to the judge or others in court?

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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 www.scotcourts.gov.uk for details of daily court business including court locations, contact numbers, rules, guidance and advice for both professional users and members of the public.

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