Justices of the Peace

Judicial and administrative duties

Aberdeen Sheriff CourtClick to enlarge image

Justices of the peace are lay magistrates who sit with a legally qualified adviser to deal with summary criminal cases. There are around 450 justices, who are drawn from all walks of life. Justices sit either alone or on a treble bench and deal with many driving offences such as speeding, careless driving, tachograph offences and driving without insurance. They also deal with less serious assault, breach of the peace, theft and other less serious crimes.  Their powers of punishment are limited to 60 days’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500 or both and to disqualify drivers on a discretionary basis.

The office of Justice of the Peace dates back to 1609, originally involving administrative, policing and judicial functions. The current justice of the peace courts were created in 2007 to replace district courts, which were operated by local authorities. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is now responsible for the administration of Justice of the Peace courts, which are organised by sheriffdom rather than local authority area. Throughout their history, justices have remained lay people, dispensing criminal justice on a local basis.

Justices are appointed by Scottish Ministers for five-year periods on the recommendation of Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees.

For more information about becoming a Justice of the Peace click here.

Lord Gill to retire

Thursday, 7 May, 2015

The Rt Hon Lord Gill, Lord President of the Court of Session and Scotland’s most senior judge, has announced his intention to retire on 31 May 2015, having completed three years’ service in that office.

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New Sheriff Principal for Tayside, Central and Fife

Friday, 1 May, 2015

Sheriff Marysia Lewis has today taken up her appointment as the new Sheriff Principal of Tayside, Central and Fife.

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New Sheriffs appointed in South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and Glasgow and Strathkelvin

Friday, 17 April, 2015

Robert Weir QC has been appointed as Sheriff of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway while Joan Kerr has been appointed as Sheriff of Glasgow and Strathkelvin, the Scottish Ministers have announced.

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New Complaints About the Judiciary (Scotland) Rules 2015

Wednesday, 1 April, 2015

The Lord President has today (1 April 2015) published new rules for complaints about the conduct of judicial office holders and associated guidance.

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Date set for FAI into Glasgow bin lorry incident

Thursday, 19 March, 2015

A date has been set for the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) relating to the road traffic incident which resulted in the deaths of six people and left ten injured in Glasgow city centre on 22 December 2014.

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