Sheriffs Principal

Judicial and administrative duties

Counsel and SolicitorsClick to enlarge image

Sheriffs principal head each of Scotland’s six sheriffdoms: Glasgow and Strathkelvin; Grampian, Highland and Islands; Lothian and Borders; North Strathclyde; South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway;  Tayside, Central and Fife.


See below for a list of the current sheriffs principal.

The position of Sheriff as the senior legal authority at local level is of ancient origin.  The current office, known as Sheriff Principal, has its origins in changes in the manner in which Scotland came to be ruled after 1745.  Legally qualified judges were appointed to succeed the old Sheriff Deputes whose positions were hereditary. The role has since become part judicial and part administrative.

Along with the Inner House of the Court of Session, sheriffs principal hear appeals against sheriffs’ decisions in civil cases. They sit alone in such cases. Sheriffs principal also hear some criminal cases and conduct major fatal accident inquiries.

Sheriffs principal have responsibility for ensuring the speedy and efficient disposal of business. They have some powers of appointment as well as a number of advisory, consultative and ceremonial functions. 

For more information about the office of sheriff principal click here.


Sheriffs principal are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister, who receives recommendations from the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland. They must have been qualified as an advocate or solicitor for at least ten years.

New Broadcast Protocol

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

A new protocol launches today on recording and broadcasting hearings in Scotland’s Supreme Courts; and on tweeting from all courts.

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Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme

Monday, 20 August, 2018

The head of the Scottish judiciary has launched a new Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme, which gives any qualified solicitor, solicitor-advocate or advocate the opportunity to apply to spend up to three days observing the work of a judicial office holder.

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Sheriff Appeal Court to sit in Glasgow

Monday, 30 July, 2018

Scotland’s Sheriff Appeal Court, which normally sits in Edinburgh, will move to Glasgow for two days on Tuesday, 14 and Wednesday, 15 August.

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New Judicial Protocol for cross-border children’s cases

Tuesday, 24 July, 2018

Lord Carloway, head of the Scottish judiciary and Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division in England & Wales, have agreed a new judicial protocol which will provide for the direct exchange of information between judges in intra-UK cross-border cases involving children.

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New Employment Judge

Monday, 28 May, 2018

Robert King has been appointed to the panel of judges of Employment Tribunals (Scotland).

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