Arrangements for training of Justices of the Peace in Scotland

An analysis of responses to a public consultation on the arrangements for training of Justices of the Peace in Scotland has revealed that a majority favour reform of the system.

In May, a review of the current arrangements was launched by the Lord President to assist him in determining what changes, if any, were needed. 

A consultation paper outlined the “case for change” and the proposed options. 

The majority of respondents (83%) indicated either explicit or qualified support for the Lord President’s preferred course of action, which will allow training to be delivered in a partnership between the Judicial Institute (JI) and local sheriffdom Justices’ Training Committees (JTCs). 

As a result of the findings, the Lord President is proposing to continue with the partnership option, under which the JI will be responsible, along with local JTCs, for devising a core curriculum for all justices in Scotland.  

Together they will produce the necessary materials, utilising the JI’s experience and resources and the skills and knowledge existing in the sheriffdoms. 

Where particular needs emerge at local level, it will be possible for specific training interventions to be devised, which will inform course development and design both locally, and through the new structure proposed, nationally as well. 

Over the coming months the Judicial Office and Judicial Institute will work in conjunction with those who will be directly involved with the new partnership to devise a framework which clearly states the roles of those involved, and responds to all concerns raised during the consultation, including: 

  • All involved must have clearly defined roles
  • There must be a clear statement of learning outcomes for all training
  • Sheriffdom Legal Advisors and Legal Advisors must be involved in developing training
  • Effective channels of communication must be set up between the Judicial Institute, Sheriffdom Legal Advisors and Justices Training Committees
  • There must be a clear statement of how quality assurance is to be achieved  

The Lord President, Lord Gill said: “I am confident that the new arrangements will benefit Justices, Justices Training Committees, the Scottish legal system, and the Scottish people as a whole.” 

A full overview of the responses to the consultation can be viewed here.


Notes to editors 

Training of justices was, historically, principally organised and arranged locally in the courts where they sat. 

Significant restructuring reforms to justices’ training were introduced as part of summary justice reforms in 2007, which included the creation of a local Justices’ Training Committee (JTC) in each sheriffdom, with responsibility for the delivery of local justices’ training and local induction training of prospective justices. 

Separately, Justices’ Appraisal Committees (JAC) were formed with responsibility for the appraisal of justices. 

Nationally, certain justices’ training would be delivered by the Judicial Studies Committee (now the Judicial Institute for Scotland). 

The view has been expressed that Justices have been “better trained” as a result of the reforms in 2007. 

By virtue of section 2(2)(d) of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 (the 2008 Act) the Lord President is responsible for making and maintaining arrangements for the training of the judiciary, and by virtue of section 2(4) of the 2008 Act, in carrying out that responsibility the Lord President must require judicial office holders to attend any such training. 

The Lord President considered it appropriate to review the structures for providing justices’ training, nationally and locally, to ensure there is a clear link between the training needs identified in appraisals and the training delivered, and to ensure justices receive training of a consistent quality on all relevant matters. 

A public consultation was launched on Wednesday 21 May and closed on Wednesday 21 August. The responses can be viewed here