Scottish Bar

See the Faculty of Advocates.

Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

The SCRA deals with children and young people who may need supervision because they have committed an offence. Children who commit offences may be referred to a children’s hearing, which will consider their needs and behaviour before deciding whether to make an Order called a Compulsory Supervision Order. This can last as long as is necessary (but only until the child turns 18) and must be reviewed at least once a year. Children over the age of 12 who commit offences may be prosecuted in certain circumstances, but this is unusual. Children who are prosecuted and convicted of an offence may be referred by the judge to a children’s hearing which can give advice on sentencing.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

The Judicial Office for Scotland is a separate part of the SCTS.

Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission

The SCCRC is a public body that reviews and investigates cases where it is alleged (thought) that there has been a wrong verdict, a wrong sentence, or both.

Scottish Legal Aid Board

SLAB provides money to people to deal with legal cases in court if they are eligible to receive it and can’t pay for it themselves.

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

This Commission is the point of contact for complaints against lawyers in Scotland including solicitors, advocates, qualified conveyancers and commercial attorneys.

Scottish Statutory Instrument

An SSI is the form in which Acts of Parliament (laws) give powers to Government ministers to make more detailed orders, rules or regulations. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.

Second Division One of the Divisions of the Inner House of the Court of Session presided over by the Lord Justice Clerk.

Section 76 indictment/letter An accused person charged with a serious offence may give notice in writing that he intends to plead guilty to an indictment under section 76 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

Senator of the College of Justice

A Senator of the College of Justice is a judge of the supreme courts. The supreme courts are the Court of Session (civil cases) and the High Court of Justiciary (criminal cases). The formal title for a High Court judge in a criminal case is Lord Commissioner of Justiciary. 

Sentence Discount

A judge can decide to discount a sentence by reducing the length because the accused has plead guilty to the offence(s). Any discount should be stated in open court.

Separatim Apart from anything already advanced or pleaded.

Sequestration (1) To render bankrupt. Strictly, it is a person's estate which is sequestrated or set aside for the use of his creditors.

(2)To sequestrate for rent is to take the furniture, etc., on leased premises to satisfy a claim for rent.

Service of heir The court process by which an heir proves and acquires a right or title to real estate of an ancestor.

Sex Offenders' Register The Sexual Offences Act 2003 does not use this expression, though it is used commonly. The Act refers to notification requirements for offenders convicted of certain sexual offences. See Notification requirements.


A sheriff is a judge who deals with more serious civil case and solemn criminal cases in the sheriff courts. See also summary sheriff.

Sheriff Appeal Court (Civil)

The Court hears appeals from decisions of sheriffs in civil cases. In standard procedure cases, the appeals are normally heard by 3 appeal sheriffs sitting in Edinburgh, while in accelerated procedure cases the appeals are normally heard by 1 appeal sheriff in the court where the action originated. Whether or not cases are heard under standard or under accelerated procedure is set by a number of factors including the significance of the appeal; its complexity; and the novelty of the points raised.

Sheriff Appeal Court (Criminal)

The Court hears appeals against summary criminal cases from both the sheriff and the justice of the peace courts. An appeal against conviction is normally heard by 3 appeal sheriffs, while an appeal against sentence is normally heard by 2 appeal sheriffs. The Court also hears appeals against bail decisions made by a sheriff or justice of the peace, and these are normally heard by 1 appeal sheriff. The Court sits in the courthouse at Lawnmarket, Edinburgh.


Sheriff Court

This court deals with the majority of cases in Scotland. Most sheriff court cases are heard by a sheriff alone. But the more serious cases are heard by a sheriff and a jury. Civil matters are heard by a sheriff alone. Summary sheriffs deal with the less serious business in the sheriff court. Cases too serious to be dealt with at the sheriff court are heard at the supreme courts, while the least serious cases are heard at the justice of the peace courts.


The court system in Scotland is divided into six areas called sheriffdoms. These areas are: Glasgow & Strathkelvin; Grampian, Highland & Islands; Lothian & Borders; North Strathclyde; South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway; Tayside, Central & Fife. A sheriff principal sits as the administrative head of each sheriffdom.

Sheriff officer An officer of the sheriff court responsible for serving documents and executing orders if the sheriff court.

Sheriffs Principal

These judges are head of each of Scotland’s six sheriffdoms (areas). A sheriff principal is responsible for ensuring the efficient disposal of business in the sheriff courts in their sheriffdom. They also sit in the Sheriff Appeal Court.

Short-term Determinate Sentence

This is a custodial sentence of less than four years. 

Signet A summons in the Court of Session, the writ by which an action is raised in that court as distinct from a petition, must have the signet or seal of the Sovereign bearing the Royal Court of Arms embossed upon it to authorise execution, that is service of the writ on a defender. The Keeper of the Signet is the Lord Clerk Register who on 3rd May 1976 granted a commission to the Principal Clerk of Session (and clerks authorised by him) to signet summonses which was formerly done by members of the Society of Writers to HM Signet.

Simple Procedure

This is a sheriff court process designed to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes. A claim is made by a claimant against a respondent and the final decision is made by a sheriff or a summary sheriff. Read more.

Sine die Indefinitely; without a day being fixed.

Sine qua non Without which nothing can be effectually done.

Single Bills A Roll for motions and some civil reclaiming motions or appeals in the Inner House of the Court of Session.

Sist (1) To stay or stop proceedings from continuing in the meantime.

(2) To summon or call someone as a party, e.g,sisting a mandatory, or a person seeking to become a party to civil proceedings.

Small claim Civil proceedings for payment, delivery, repossession, implement of obligation where the monetary claim does not exceed £3000.

Solatium The damages sought and awarded in actions for personal injuries or death of a relative primarily for pain and suffering.

Solemn proceedings

Serious criminal offences are prosecuted on indictment before a judge and a jury of 15 people. These proceedings are called solemn proceedings. Summary proceedings are heard before a sheriff; a summary sheriff; or a justice of the peace sitting without a jury.

Solicitor & Solicitor Advocate

In Scotland, this is a qualified and regulated legal practitioner/lawyer who represents clients in the sheriff and justice of the peace courts. They also instruct advocates who represent clients in the supreme courts. Solicitors can undertake additional training to quality as a solicitor advocate which allows them to also represent clients in Scotland's supreme courts. Solicitors and solicitor advocates do not wear wigs in court. For a fuller description of all the work that solicitors do in Scotland, including outside of court, see the Law Society of Scotland website.

Solicitor General for Scotland

This law officer is deputy to Lord Advocate (the chief legal advisor in Scotland). He or she is also a minister of the Scottish Government.

Specific implement An order of court requiring a person to carry out an obligation under contract or at common law.

Specification of documents Where documents are sought to be used to prove a case and are in the possession of another party in the case or some person who is not a party, they may be sought to be recovered by that other person on application to the court. A motion for recovery of documents must be accompanied by a document called a specification of documents which sets out the particular documents or categories of documents sought to be recovered. See also Recovery of documents.

Standing Junior Counsel

This position is appointed by the Lord Advocate to advise and represent government departments. The Lord Advocate is the senior law officer responsible for the prosecution of crime and investigation of deaths in Scotland, and the principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government.

Starred motion A motion in the Court of Session for which appearance is required by or for a party to the proceedings.

Stated Case (1) Where an appeal is made against a decision to convict or not to convict a person on summary complaint, the judge must prepare a stated case which sets out the facts and questions for the Justiciary Appeal Court This is a formal document. If the offender wishes to appeal against sentence only (i.e. the severity) the appeal is by note of appeal.

(2) Where a party appeals to a sheriff principal against a decision in a summary cause or a small claim, which may only be on a point of law, the sheriff must prepare a stated case.

Statute An Act of Parliament.

Statutory instrument (S.I.) The form in which subordinate legislation, that is orders, rules and regulations etc made under a UK Act of Parliament are made superseding, since 1947, statutory rules and orders (S.R.& O.). See also Scottish statutory instrument which is a statutory instrument made by the Scottish Parliament.

Stipendary magistrate A legally qualified judge who hears criminal cases in summary proceedings on summary complaint.

Style A form of a document used as a model for similar documents.

Subordinate legislation This is an order, rule, regulation, etc., made under an Act of Parliament. See also Statutory instrument; and Scottish statutory instrument.

Summar Roll

This is a list of upcoming cases to be heard in the Inner House of the Court of Session for the hearing of civil appeals. 

Summary application This is form of application in the sheriff court for a variety of statutory applications, including certain kinds of statutory appeal to the sheriff as distinct from an initial writ, small claim or summary cause.

Summary cause This is the form of simplified procedure applicable to civil cases in the sheriff court with a limit of £5000 in the case of monetary claims. Certain actions for the recovery of heritable property must also be by summary cause.

Summary complaint

Court cases prosecuted on summary complaint are heard before a sheriff; a summary sheriff; or a justice of the peace sitting alone without a jury. The judge must decide the verdict and, if there is a conviction, the sentence. More serious crimes are heard before a judge and jury on indictment under solemn procedure.

Summary decree A final decision on part or all of a defence to an action or defence to a counterclaim on the basis that the defence does not in fact disclose a defence.

Summary warrant This is a warrant issued by the sheriff to, e.g, a local authority authorising diligence for the recovery of arrears of council tax.

Summons The form of writ initiating an action in the Court of Session. It is issued in name of the sovereign, containing a royal mandate to messengers-at-arms to cite the defender to the court.

Supervised attendance order (SAO) A sentence in stead of a fine on an offender convicted of an offence of not more than 100 hours supervision by a social worker.

Supervised Release Order

This is an order given by a judge as a sentence, or part of a sentence, saying that an offender must be supervised by a social worker on release from prison (adults) or on release from detention (youths). The offender must have been given a custodial sentence of between 1 and 4 years for a more serious offence - other than a sexual offence.



Supra citatum (Sup cit or supra) Above cited.

Supreme Courts

These courts deal with the most serious cases. The supreme courts in Scotland are made up of the High Court of Judiciary (for criminal cases) and the Court of Session (for civil cases).