Any disputes in Civil Law, which are normally between two individuals, are raised in the Civil Court. The structure of the Civil Court system is very much the same as it was a century ago. There are three Civil Courts which hold jurisdiction in Scotland namely the Sheriff Court, the Court of Session and the Supreme Court. The Court of Session established in 1532 was Scotland’s first permanent Court. The Supreme Court established in 2009 is now the final Appeal Court for Civil matters.
All Sheriff Courts in Scotland are encompassed into a region known as a “Sheriffdom”. There are six Sheriffdoms in Scotland: Grampian, Highland & Islands; Tayside, Central & Fife; Lothian & Borders; Glasgow & Strathkelvin; North Strathclyde; and South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway. Within each Sheriffdom there are several Sheriff Court districts each with their own Sheriff Court. Each Sheriff Court has several Sheriffs and one Sheriff Principal. The Sheriff Principal is a Senior Judge who deals with Appeals from decisions by the Sheriff Court.
The Sheriff Court is mainly a Court of first instance which deals with cases for the first time and has certain jurisdiction. The Sheriff Court can deal with cases in areas such as family and child matters, debt recovery and personal injury. Most of the cases dealt with are family matters and debt recovery. In 2008 there were 11,538 Divorces granted in Scotland with the majority being by Ordinary or Simplified Procedure in the Sheriff Court. Also within the Sheriff Court are the Commissary Offices which deal with the Estates of the deceased, issue Confirmation and also the Appointments of Executors, in particular where the deceased left no Will.
There are three types of procedure within the Sheriff Court: Small Claims for actions up to £3,000; Summary Cause for actions above £3,000 but below £5,000; and Ordinary Cause for actions above £5,000. The Small Claims and Summary Cause procedure are raised by the Pursuer...