Summary Sheriffs

The post of summary sheriff, which was established by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, was created to ensure that cases in Scotland’s courts are heard at the appropriate level in the court structure, enabling sheriffs to focus on solemn business and more complex criminal cases. The 2014 Act also abolished the office of stipendiary magistrate.

Summary sheriffs will sit in the sheriff courts and their criminal jurisdiction is in respect of summary prosecutions. A summary sheriff will conduct summary trials and be able to impose appropriate sentences in summary proceedings.

In summary procedure the maximum penalty, except where lower penalties are prescribed by a particular statute, is 12 months’ imprisonment and a fine of £10,000. There are, however, wide discretionary sentences including a Community Payback Order which may involve detailed conditions,  drug treatment and testing orders, restriction of liberty orders, supervised attendance orders and the power to order compensation, in addition to other incidental orders including football banning orders, non-harassment orders, anti-social behaviour orders, disqualification orders, and forfeiture of vehicles or other property.

In addition, a summary sheriff will have competence over certain procedural matters in solemn cases prior to the first diet. This would include, for example: the granting of warrants for arrest and production of documents; custody hearings which include bail and bail review hearings. 

Schedule 1 of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 details the civil proceedings which a summary sheriff will have competence to deal with. In short, a summary sheriff will be able to deal with the following proceedings: Family; domestic abuse; adoption; children’s’ hearings; forced marriage; warrants and interim orders; diligence proceedings; extension of time to pay debts and simple procedure.

Summary sheriffs appointed for Glasgow and Strathkelvin, sitting at Glasgow Sheriff Court, are:

  • Gerard Bonnar
  • Brian Cameron
  • Barry Divers
  • Allan Findlay
  • Shona Gilroy
  • Tony Kelly
  • Diana McConnell
  • Mary McCrory
  • Walter Mercer

Summary sheriffs appointed to the Sheriffdom of Lothian and Borders, based between Edinburgh and Livingston are:

  • John Cook
  • Adrian Cottam
  • Peter McCormack
  • John MacRitchie

Summary sheriffs appointed for Grampian, Highland and Islands, based at Aberdeen Sheriff Court are:

  • Margaret Hodge

Summary sheriffs appointed for South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, and based between Airdrie, Ayr and Hamilton sheriff courts are:

  • Sara Matheson
  • Ross Macfarlane QC
  • Mhairi Mactaggart
  • Allan McKay
  • Linda Nicolson

Summary sheriffs appointed to the Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde are:

  • John Hamilton QC
  • Michael Hanlon
  • Craig Harris
  • Daniel Kelly
  • Moira McKenzie

Summary sheriffs appointed to the Sheriffdom of Tayside Central and Fife are:

  • Derek Livingston
  • Alison McKay
  • Jillian Martin-Brown
  • James MacDonald
  • John Rafferty
  • Derek Reekie 

The following part-time stipendiary magistrates became part-time summary sheriffs from 1 April 2016:

  • J Kevin Duffy
  • Colin Dunipace
  • J Euan Edment
  • Sukhwinder Gill
  • David Griffiths

Related FAQs

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Attending Court


People attend court for many reasons. They may be directly involved in the case such as the lawyers, accused, witnesses, jurors or police officers or as members of the public they may wish to attend and observe proceedings. All courts are open to the public except in certain circumstances.

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