The majority of cases are dealt with in the country’s 49 Sheriff Courts unless they are of sufficient seriousness to go to the Supreme Courts at first instance.
There are six sheriffdoms in Scotland - see map:
- Glasgow and Strathkelvin
- Grampian, Highland and Islands;
- Lothian and Borders;
- North Strathclyde;
- South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway;
- Tayside, Central and Fife
Each Sheriffdom has a sheriff principal charged with a number of duties in respect of the courts for which they are responsible, including in particular a duty “to secure the efficient disposal of business in the sheriff courts of that sheriffdom”.
Criminal cases are heard by a sheriff and a jury (solemn procedure), but can be heard by a sheriff alone (summary procedure).
Civil matters are also heard by a sheriff sitting alone.
For more information about sheriffs and part-time sheriffs visit the Judiciary of Scotland website.