Court of Session
Overview
 
The Court of Session is the supreme
Supreme court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

 civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 court
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and constitutes part of the College of Justice
College of Justice
The College of Justice is a term used to describe the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies.The constituent bodies of the supreme courts of Scotland are the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, and the Accountant of Court's Office...

. It sits in Parliament House
Parliament House, Edinburgh
Parliament House in Edinburgh, Scotland, was home to the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland, and now houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland. It is located in the Old Town, just off the Royal Mile, opposite St Giles Cathedral.-Parliament Hall:...

 in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 and is both a court of first instance
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

 and a court of appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

.

The court has a largely coextensive jurisdiction
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 with the Sheriff Court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

—the other Scottish civil court, which sits locally—with the choice of court being given first to the pursuer
Pursuer
A pursuer in Scotland is the party who initiates a lawsuit before a Court of Scotland. The term is the same in civil and criminal proceedings. The pursuer is seeking a legal remedy, and if successful, the court will issue judgment in favour of the pursuer and make the appropriate court order...

; but the majority of complex or high value cases are brought in the Court of Session.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Court of Session is the supreme
Supreme court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

 civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 court
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and constitutes part of the College of Justice
College of Justice
The College of Justice is a term used to describe the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies.The constituent bodies of the supreme courts of Scotland are the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, and the Accountant of Court's Office...

. It sits in Parliament House
Parliament House, Edinburgh
Parliament House in Edinburgh, Scotland, was home to the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland, and now houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland. It is located in the Old Town, just off the Royal Mile, opposite St Giles Cathedral.-Parliament Hall:...

 in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 and is both a court of first instance
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

 and a court of appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

.

The court has a largely coextensive jurisdiction
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 with the Sheriff Court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

—the other Scottish civil court, which sits locally—with the choice of court being given first to the pursuer
Pursuer
A pursuer in Scotland is the party who initiates a lawsuit before a Court of Scotland. The term is the same in civil and criminal proceedings. The pursuer is seeking a legal remedy, and if successful, the court will issue judgment in favour of the pursuer and make the appropriate court order...

; but the majority of complex or high value cases are brought in the Court of Session. Legal aid
Legal aid
Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.A number of...

, administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board
Scottish Legal Aid Board
The Scottish Legal Aid Board is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government, responsible for managing legal aid in Scotland...

, is available to some persons for cases of the Court of Session.

The Court of Session is notionally a unitary collegiate court, with all judges other than the Lord President
Lord President of the Court of Session
The Lord President of the Court of Session is head of the judiciary in Scotland, and presiding judge of the College of Justice and Court of Session, as well as being Lord Justice General of Scotland and head of the High Court of Justiciary, the offices having been combined in 1836...

 and the Lord Justice Clerk
Lord Justice Clerk
The Lord Justice Clerk is the second most senior judge in Scotland, after the Lord President of the Court of Session.The holder has the title in both the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary and is in charge of the Second Division of Judges in the Court of Session...

 holding the same rank and title: Senator of the College of Justice
Senator of the College of Justice
The Senators of the College of Justice are judges of the College of Justice, a set of legal institutions involved in the administration of justice in Scotland. There are three types of Senator: Lords of Session ; Lords Commissioner of Justiciary ; and the Chairman of the Scottish Land Court...

and also Lord or Lady of Council and Session. There are thirty-four judges (four of whom are women), in addition to a number of temporary judges—who are typically either sheriffs
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

 or advocate
Advocate
An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...

s in private practice. The judges sit also in the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

, where the Lord President is named, as president of that court, the Lord Justice General.

The Court of Session Act 1810
Court of Session Act 1810
The Court of Session Act 1810 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom reforming Scotland's highest court, the Court of Session. This Act was a follow-up Act to the Court of Session Act 1808 in reforming the Court of Session, creating the two divisions known as the Inner House and the...

 divided the Court into the Outer House
Outer House
The Outer House is one of the two parts of the Scottish Court of Session, which is the supreme civil court in Scotland. It is a court of first instance, although some statutory appeals are remitted to it by the other more senior part, the Inner House...

 and the Inner House
Inner House
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance...

. The first is the junior part of the Court of Session and is a court of first instance. The second is an appeal court for civil cases as well as a court of first instance.

History

The Lords of Council and Session had previously been part of the King's Council
Privy Council of Scotland
The Privy Council of Scotland was a body that advised the King.In the range of its functions the council was often more important than the Estates in the running the country. Its registers include a wide range of material on the political, administrative, economic and social affairs of Scotland...

, but
after receiving support in the form of a papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 of 1531, King James V
James V of Scotland
James V was King of Scots from 9 September 1513 until his death, which followed the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss...

 established a separate institution—the College of Justice or Court of Session—in 1532, with a structure based on that of the Parlement of Paris. The Lord Chancellor of Scotland
Lord Chancellor of Scotland
The Lord Chancellor of Scotland was a Great Officer of State in pre-Union Scotland.Holders of the office are known from 1123 onwards, but its duties were occasionally performed by an official of lower status with the title of Keeper of the Great Seal...

 was to preside over the court, which was to be composed of fifteen lords appointed from the King’s Council. Seven of the lords had to be churchmen, while another seven had to be laymen
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

.

An Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 in 1640 restricted membership of the Court to laymen only, by withdrawing the right of churchmen to sit in judgement. The number of laymen was increased to maintain the number of Lords in the Court.

The Court of Session is explicitly preserved "in all time coming" in Article XIX of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 between England and Scotland, subsequently passed into legislation by the Acts of Union
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 in 1706 and 1707 respectively.

Several significant changes were made to the Court during the nineteenth century. It was separated into two divisions, the Outer House
Outer House
The Outer House is one of the two parts of the Scottish Court of Session, which is the supreme civil court in Scotland. It is a court of first instance, although some statutory appeals are remitted to it by the other more senior part, the Inner House...

 and Inner House
Inner House
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance...

, by the Court of Session Act 1810
Court of Session Act 1810
The Court of Session Act 1810 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom reforming Scotland's highest court, the Court of Session. This Act was a follow-up Act to the Court of Session Act 1808 in reforming the Court of Session, creating the two divisions known as the Inner House and the...

. A further separation was made in 1815 with the creation of a lesser Jury Court to allow certain civil cases to be tried by jury. In 1830 the Jury Court was absorbed into the Court of Session along with the Admiralty
Admiralty court
Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries and offences.- Admiralty Courts in England and Wales :...

 and Commissary
Commissary Court
The term Commissary Court is in use in Scots law and in the Church of England.-Scots law:At the Scottish Reformation in 1560, the system of consistorial courts where bishops exercised their civil jurisdiction over executry and matrimonial cases broke down. This led to such confusion that Commissary...

 Courts.

Structure

The court is divided into two houses. The Lords Ordinary
Lord Ordinary
Lord Ordinary is a term used to describe any judge in the Outer House of the Scottish Court of Session....

 sit in the Outer House, and usually singly. The Lords of Council and Session sit in the Inner House, typically in threes. The nature of cases referred to the Court of Session will determine which house that case shall be heard in. The court may set its own procedures and practices by Acts of Sederunt
Act of Sederunt
Act of Sederunt in Scots law, is an ordinance for regulating the forms of judicial procedure before the Court of Session , Sheriff Courts in civil session, and for setting fees for Messengers-at-arms and Sheriff officers...

. (These are generally incorporated into the Rules of Court, which are published by the Scottish Court Service
Scottish Court Service
The Scottish Court Service is the body which is responsible for the administration of the Court system in Scotland. The Service employs over 1000 staff members in Scotland's 49 Sheriff Courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary, Justice of the Peace Courts and at the Service's HQ...

 and form the basis for Scots civil procedure
Scots civil procedure
Scots civil procedure governs the rules of civil procedure in Scotland. It deals with the jurisdiction of Scottish civil courts, namely the Court of Session and Sheriff Courts. Civil procedure is generally regulated by Acts of Sederunt which are ordinances passed by the Court of Session...

.) Members of the Faculty of Advocates
Faculty of Advocates
The Faculty of Advocates is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise as advocates before the courts of Scotland, especially the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary...

, known as advocate
Advocate
An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...

s or counsel
Counsel
A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

, and as of 1990 also some solicitors, known as solicitor-advocates, have practically exclusive rights of audience in the court.

Outer House

The Outer House is a court of first instance, although some statutory appeals are remitted to it by the Inner House. Judges in the Outer House are referred to as Lord or Lady [name], or as Lord Ordinary
Lord Ordinary
Lord Ordinary is a term used to describe any judge in the Outer House of the Scottish Court of Session....

. They sit singly, sometimes with a jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 of twelve in personal injury and defamation actions. Subject-matter jurisdiction
Subject-matter jurisdiction
Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority to hear bankruptcy cases....

 is extensive and extends to all kinds of civil claims unless expressly excluded by statute, and it shares much of this jurisdiction with the Sheriff court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

s. Some classes of cases, such as intellectual property disputes, are heard by designated judges.

Final (and some important procedural) judgments of the Outer House may be appealed to the Inner House. Other judgments may be so appealed with leave.

Inner House

The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, and is both a court of appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

 and a court of first instance
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

. As a court of first instance it has historically handled cases that involve nobile officium, a power it shares with the High Court of Justiciary. Criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

s in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 are handled by the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

 sitting as the Court of Appeal.

The Inner House
Inner House
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance...

 is the part of the Court of Session which acts as a court of appeal for cases decided the Outer House and of civil cases from the Sheriff Court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

s, the Court of the Lord Lyon
Court of the Lord Lyon
The Court of the Lord Lyon, also known as the Lyon Court, is a standing court of law which regulates heraldry in Scotland. Like the College of Arms in England it maintains the register of grants of arms, known as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, as well as records of...

, Scottish Land Court
Scottish Land Court
The Scottish Land Court is a Scottish court of law based in Edinburgh with subject-matter jurisdiction for disputes between landlords and tenants relating to agricultural tenancies and matters related to crofts and crofters. The Chairman of the Scottish Land Court is ranked as a Senator of the...

, and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland
Lands Tribunal for Scotland
The Lands Tribunal for Scotland is a civil court with jurisdiction over certain matters relating to land and property in Scotland. The Tribunal was established under the Lands Tribunal Act 1949, which also created the separate Lands Tribunal in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.Although the...

. The Inner House always sits as a panel of at least three Senators and with no jury.

Unlike in the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

, there is a right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 (and previously instead to the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 or to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords) of cases from the Inner House
Inner House
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance...

. The right of appeal only exists when the Court of Session grants leave to this effect or when the decision of the Inner House
Inner House
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance...

 is by majority. Until the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

 came into force in October 2009, this right of appeal was to the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 (or sometimes to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. Established by the Judicial Committee Act 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King in Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is one of the highest courts in the United...

).

Function

The primary task of the Court of Session is to decide on civil law cases. The court is also the Court of Exchequer for Scotland
Court of Exchequer (Scotland)
The Court of Exchequer was formerly a distinct part of the court system in Scotland, with responsibility for administration of government revenue and judicial matters relating to customs and excise, revenue, stamp duty and probate...

, a jurisdiction previously held by the Court of Exchequer
Court of Exchequer (Scotland)
The Court of Exchequer was formerly a distinct part of the court system in Scotland, with responsibility for administration of government revenue and judicial matters relating to customs and excise, revenue, stamp duty and probate...

. (In 1856, the functions of that court were transferred to the Court of Session, and one of the Lords Ordinary
Lord Ordinary
Lord Ordinary is a term used to describe any judge in the Outer House of the Scottish Court of Session....

 sit as a Lord Ordinary in Exchequer Causes when hearing cases therein.) This was restated by the Court of Session Act 1988.

The Court of Session is also the admiralty court
Admiralty court
Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries and offences.- Admiralty Courts in England and Wales :...

 for Scotland, having been given the duties of that court by the provisions of the Court of Session Act 1830. The boundaries of the jurisdiction of the Court of Session in maritime cases is set out in the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999
Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999
The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 is a statutory instrument of the United Kingdom, defining "the boundaries between waters which are to be treated as internal waters or territorial sea of the United Kingdom adjacent to Scotland and those which are not"...

.

The Oath of Allegiance is taken by holders of political office in Scotland before the Lord President of the Court of Session at a meeting of the court.

See also

  • Office of the Accountant of Court
    Office of the Accountant of Court
    The Office of the Accountant of Court is a constituent body of the Supreme Courts of Scotland.Based in Edinburgh, the office of Accountant of Court, also known as the Accountant of the Court of Session , was established by the Judicial Factors Act 1849, and their role was further defined by the...

  • List of Senators of the College of Justice
  • Historic List of Senators of the College of Justice
    Historic List of Senators of the College of Justice
    A list of the Senators of the College of Justice in Scotland from 1689 to present.-Sources:*An Historical Account of the Senators of the College of Justice from its Institution in MDXXXII by George Brunton and David Haig, published by Thomas Clark MDCCCXXXII - for entries 1689 to 1850 only* - for...

  • List of Leading Scottish Legal Cases

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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