Justice of the peace courts (also known as JP courts) are a unique part of Scotland’s criminal justice system.
A justice of the peace is a lay magistrate, appointed from within the local community and trained in criminal law and procedure. Justices sit either alone, or in a bench of three, and deal with the less serious summary crimes, such as speeding, careless driving and breach of the peace In court justices have access to advice on the law and procedure from lawyers, who fulfil the role of legal advisers or clerk of court.
Justice of the peace courts have replaced the district courts that were established in 1975 under local authority administration. The justice of the peace courts are administered, along with the other courts, by the Scottish Court Service. There is no justice of the peace court in the sheriff court districts of Lerwick, Kirkwall, Lochmaddy and Rothesay.
A justice of the peace court can be presided over by a stipendiary magistrate. A stipendiary magistrate is a legally qualified solicitor or advocate who sits alone. They deal with more serious summary business similar to sheriffs, such as drink driving, dangerous driving and assault. Stipendiary magistrates have been appointed only in the Justice of the peace court in the Sheriffdom of Glasgow and Strathkelvin.
Local Criminal Justice Boards