Judges preside over different types of courts across Scotland and make what can often be difficult decisions. They must ensure that court proceedings are conducted within the law, ensuring the right to a fair hearing, and decide the outcome of the proceedings. In criminal cases, they decide the sentence that an offender will serve, and in civil cases, they decide what the outcome should be. If those involved in a case do not believe the right decision has been given, they may be able to appeal it to a higher court. In this way, judges are held accountable.
Read more about the role of a judge.
To be appointed, judges must go through a rigorous application process which tests the high level of skill, experience and professionalism required. Once appointed, all judges receive training at the Judicial Institute, which keeps them up to date on the latest changes in the law. They regularly attend courses to build their knowledge and expertise, and receive weekly updates on news and developments in the law and practice.
Judicial office holders must ensure that their decisions are impartial and based only on the facts and evidence of a case, and must meet the highest standard of personal and professional conduct both in and out of court.
A cornerstone of every fair and just society is an independent judiciary able to make carefully considered decisions without interference or influence from government or politicians.
Key to judicial independence are impartiality & integrity, and judges base their decisions solely on the law and on the facts and evidence of the case in court.
Read more about judicial independence and ethics.
Allocation of cases
Cases are primarily allocated based on a judge’s availability. The specialisations and expertise of individual judges may also be a factor, such as in commercial matters.
Our justice system is continually modernising, and the Lord President, Lord Carloway, who is head of the judiciary in Scotland, plays a large part in promoting change. Current plans include improving the way evidence is taken in court from children and vulnerable witnesses; and extending the use of technology.
Judicial Council for Scotland
The Judicial Council for Scotland was established by the Lord President in 2007, and its membership is drawn from all categories of judicial office holder.
The purpose of the Council is to provide information and advice to the Lord President and the Scottish judiciary on matters relevant to the administration of justice in Scotland.
Read more about the Council.
See the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website for information on attending court.
For information see the UK Government website.
Complaints about the personal conduct of Scottish judges in or out of court can be made to the Judicial Office for Scotland.