Roles and Jurisdiction

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Judges sit in a number of courts and make decisions in both civil and criminal cases. They ensure cases and verdicts are within the limits of the law and hand down judgments and sentences.

The Lord President is the senior judge in Scotland and the head of the judiciary. As presiding judge of Scotland’s supreme civil and criminal courts, he acts as both Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Justice General of the High Court of Justiciary. The current Lord President is Lord Carloway.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, who may deputise for the Lord President, also has her own functions.

The Lord President is supported in the majority of his work by the Judicial Office for Scotland, a separate department of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

Judges include those who sit in the supreme courts as well as sheriffs principal, sheriffs and justices of the peace . They all exercise their powers independently of others, including government and parliament, while upholding high standards of conduct and adhering to a widely accepted framework of ethics. Separate representative bodies operate on their behalf.

Much of the work of judges involves hearing cases but they have many other responsibilities outside the courtroom. Read here about the day-to-day work of a judge.

Related FAQs

Q.Do judges choose the cases to judge or are they random?
Q.What qualifications are required to be a judge?
Q.Who chooses judges?

View all related FAQs

A day in the life of


Judges spend a great deal of time working on cases before and after court and have to do a lot of preparation for the day ahead. Read about a typical day for a judge.