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About the Judiciary

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Judges sit in a number of courts and make decisions in both civil and criminal cases. They ensure that cases and verdicts are within the limits of the law and hand down judgments and sentences which reflect this.

The Lord President is the most senior judge in Scotland and the head of the judiciary. He is also the presiding judge of the College of Justice - the supreme civil and criminal courts of Scotland. College judges are called senators. Other types of judges include sheriffs and justices of the peace.

Court Structure

Read about the hierarchy of the courts and the routes for appeal.

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Roles and Jurisdiction


Judges sit in a number of different courts hearing both civil and criminal cases.

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Judicial Office Holders

Judges' Library

Read about the varying roles and jurisdictions of judicial office holders in Scotland.

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Judicial Appointments

The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland is the body responsible for the appointment of judges as vacancies arise. Find out how judges are appointed

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Representative Bodies

Read about the associations that represent the interest of sheriffs and justices of the peace

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A day in the life of....

Find out what a typical day in the life of a judge is like.

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Principles of Judicial Ethics


Judges hold an important position in society. They are entrusted with exercising considerable power, which can have a dramatic effect on the lives of those who appear in court. They must uphold the highest standards of conduct - both in and out of court.

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Judicial Independence

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The independence of the judiciary is a cornerstone of a democratic society and a safeguard for the freedom and rights of the citizen under the rule of law. It means that judges should be free to make impartial decisions based solely on fact and law, without interference, pressure or influence from the state.

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Judicial Office for Scotland

The Judicial Office for Scotland came into being on the 1 April 2010 as part of the structural changes introduced by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

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Related FAQs

Q.Do you have to be a certain age to be a judge?
Q.How do I address a judge in court?
Q.What is the significance of the crosses on judges’ robes?
Q.Who chooses judges?
Q.Why do judges wear wigs?

View all related FAQs