Sheriffs

Judicial and administrative duties

Ayr Sheriff CourtClick to enlarge image

Sheriffs deal with the majority of civil and criminal court cases in Scotland, Currently, there are 142 permanent or resident sheriffs sitting in 49 courtrooms in towns and cities across the country. Floating sheriffs move between courts, sitting wherever they are needed. As the jurisdiction of the ancient office of sheriff is so vast, sheriffs must have a grasp of every aspect of law.

The main role of sheriffs is to sit as a trial judge, though they do have some appellate functions. The criminal jurisdiction of sheriffs is both summary (less serious matters where the sheriff sits alone) and solemn (more serious offences where the sheriff sits with a jury of 15 men and women). In summary cases, sheriffs may impose a maximum prison sentence of 12 months or a fine of up to £10,000. In solemn cases, sheriffs can deal with any crimes except murder, rape and treason. The maximum penalty a sheriff may impose in solemn proceedings is five years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Sheriffs also have a range of alternative disposals, including community service and probation.

In civil cases, the sheriff court has jurisdiction for all claims under £5,000. Otherwise, the jurisdiction of the court is almost the same as the Court of Session.  There is no financial upper limit in the sheriff court.  Sheriffs deal with many complex and difficult civil cases, including cases involving debt, claims for compensation, contract disputes, bankruptcy, company liquidation, eviction and anti-social behaviour. They hear almost all family actions – including divorce, child welfare and adoptions – and have important functions in relation to children’s hearings.

Many statutory appeals and applications are made to sheriffs. These can involve licensing, gaming, public order, gun control, education and adults with incapacity. Sheriffs conduct fatal accident inquiries into sudden or suspicious deaths, and may make findings and recommendations in the public interest.

In addition, sheriffs have numerous administrative, quasi-judicial and advisory responsibilities.  When sitting in court sheriffs wear a black gown and wig.

For more information about the office of sheriff click here.

 Appointment 

 Permanent sheriffs are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and in consultation with the Lord President. They must have been qualified as an advocate or solicitor for at least ten years.

Below is a list of sheriffs, the court they are based in and an indication of whether they are resident (R) or floating (F).

Sheriff Name Court Name Gender F/R
Abercrombie QC, Ian Dunfermline M R
Arthurson QC, Paul A Edinburgh M R
Baird, John A Glasgow M R
Beckett, John W P Glasgow M R
Berry, Andrew Wick/Kirkwall M F
Bicket, David M Hamilton M R
Braid, Peter J Haddington M R
Brown, Alastair N Dundee M R
Brown, Douglas A Hamilton M R
Buchanan, Graham K Aberdeen M R
Caldwell, Craig Falkirk M R
Carmichael, Alastair Hamilton M F
Cathcart, Samuel Glasgow M R
Collins, Petra M Airdrie F F
Corke, Donald S Edinburgh M F
Cowan, Anella M Aberdeen F R
Craig, Susan A Livingston F F
Crowe, Frank R Edinburgh M R
Crozier, Paul V Glasgow M R
Cubie, Andrew M Glasgow M R
Cunninghame, Carole Hamilton F F
Davidson, Richard A Fort William / Portree M R
Deutsch, Anthony F Glasgow M R
Dickson, Robert H Airdrie M R
Drummond QC, Lorna Dundee F F
Duff, Alistair J M Dundee M R
Edington, Martin G R Livingston M R
Fife, Robert D M Paisley M F
Fleetwood, Gordon Inverness M F
Fleming, Iain M Greenock M F
Fletcher, Michael J Perth M R
Foran, Mary S Kilmarnock F F
Foulis, Lindsay D R Perth M R
Fraser, Simon W H Dumbarton M R
Galbraith, Morag M Airdrie F R
Gallacher, William J Falkirk M R
Garden, Malcolm Aberdeen M R
Gilchrist QC, Jamie Inverness/Tain M F
Gilchrist, William Stirling M F
Hamilton, Derek J Greenock M R
Hammond, Peter Livingston M R
Hendry, Maxwell G Kirkcaldy M R
Holligan, William H Edinburgh M R
Hughes, Thomas G Dundee M R
Ireland, William S S Paisley M R
Jamieson, George Dumfries M R
Johnston QC, Johanna M Glasgow F R
Jones QC, Martin Glasgow M R
Kelly QC, Daniel Airdrie M F
Kelly, Carol A Dumbarton F R
Kinloch, Douglas A Livingston M F
Leslie, Desmond Ayr M R
Lewis, Marysia W Aberdeen F R
Liddell, Margaret Glasgow F R
Liddle, Gordon W M Edinburgh M R
MacFadyen, Alasdair L Hamilton M R
Maciver, Kenneth M Edinburgh M R
Mackie, Andrew Glasgow M R
Mackie, David N Alloa M R
Mackie, Kathrine E C Edinburgh F R
MacKinnon, Neil J Glasgow M R
MacLeod, Roderick J Edinburgh M R
Macnair QC, Charles N Cupar M R
MacNeill QC, Deirdre M Edinburgh F R
Mann, Philip Banff/Lerwick M R
McCartney, Thomas Paisley M F
McColl, Isabella G Edinburgh F R
McCormick, John Glasgow M R
McCulloch, Andrew G Kirkcaldy M R
McDonald, Iona S Kilmarnock F R
McFadyen, Norman Ayr M R
McFarlane QC, Charles W Glasgow M R
McFarlane, Elizabeth Kilmarnock F R
McGowan, Kenneth J Stirling M F
McKenzie, Alan Glasgow M R
McSherry, John C C Dunfermline M R
Millar, Thomas S Hamilton M F
Miller, Alan D Glasgow M R
Miller, Andrew Dingwall M F
Miller, Ian H L Glasgow M R
Miller, John J Hamilton M F
Mitchell, James K Glasgow M R
Mohan, Brian Dumfries M F
Montgomery, John Ayr M R
Morris QC, John C Airdrie M R
Morrison QC, Nigel M P Edinburgh M R
Mundy, John K Falkirk M F
Munro, Elizabeth C Dundee F R
Murphy QC, Sean Glasgow M F
Murray, Gregor Forfar M F
Napier, Graeme Aberdeen M R
Neilson, Margaret M Inverness F R
Noble, Alistair W Edinburgh M R
Normand, Andrew C Glasgow M R
O'Carroll, Derek Edinburgh M F
O'Grady QC, Michael G Edinburgh M R
Paterson, Peter Selkirk M F
Pattison, Scott Ayr M F
Pender, David J Paisley M R
Pender, Simon C Dumbarton M R
Pettigrew, Colin W Paisley M R
Pieri, Frank L Airdrie M R
Platt, Joseph Glasgow M R
Powrie, Joyce Hamilton F R
Raeburn QC, Susan A O Elgin F F
Reid, Stuart B Glasgow M R
Reith QC, Fiona L Edinburgh F R
Ritchie QC, Norman Glasgow M R
Robb, Kenneth R Stranraer M R
Robertson, Alexander W Stirling M R
Ross, Nigel Edinburgh M F
Ruxton, Linda M Glasgow F R
Scullion, Daniel Glasgow M R
Shead, Christopher M Aberdeen M F
Sheehan, Wendy A Edinburgh F R
Sinclair, Susan M Paisley F R
Small, Harry K Hamilton M R
Small, William D Oban M R
Smart, Marie T Hamilton F R
Smith, Vincent J Hamilton M R
Spy, James Paisley M R
Stewart, Kenneth M Aberdeen M R
Stewart, Nikola C Lanark F R
Stirling, Alison Aberdeen F F
Summers, William Aberdeen M R
Sutherland, David O Dornoch M R
Swanson, Alayne E Glasgow F R
Tait, Fiona Perth F R
Thornton, Alastair G D Kirkcaldy M F
Totten, William J Glasgow M R
Waldron, Shona A Hamilton F R
Ward, Thomas Dunoon M R
Watson, Alistair G Kilmarnock M R
Way, George A Dundee M R
Welsh QC, Thomas Edinburgh M R
Williamson, James H Kirkcaldy M R
Wood, Lindsay Glasgow M R
Wood, William M Stirling M F

Related FAQs

Q.Do all judges wear robes? Why do judges wear different robes in civil and criminal courts?
Q.How do I address a judge in court?
Q.Why do judges wear wigs?

View all related FAQs

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