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Outline The Main Differences Between Civil And Criminal Law In Scotland And Describe How These Differences Operate

899 words - 4 pages


It is relatively often that people can find it difficult to differentiate between the two main divisions of the Scottish legal system and fully understand their characteristics. This assignment will explore the key differences between criminal and civil law in Scotland by delivering insight into the complexities of the court systems, procedures and disputes considered in both branches of Scots Law.

The Basic Distinction

Civil law proceedings generally consist of disputes between two private individuals or organisations and 'are undertaken to obtain a civil remedy' as opposed to the parties resorting to violence.
Typically a case can be commenced when an individual, an ...view middle of the document...

The same can not be said however for civil law where the burden of proof requires a mere 51% for the judge to come to a decision before ruling in favour of one of the two parties.

Court Structure and Disputes Considered

Further noticeable differences are illustrated through the civil and criminal court structure, as well as the range of disputes that are considered in each court. The judiciary in Scotland is led by the Lord President of the Court of Session who also acts as the Lord Justice General of the High Court of the Justiciary.
Civil proceedings are typically held in one of three courts; The sheriff court, the Court of Session and the UK Supreme Court. The sheriff courts act as a forum for both criminal and private court actions and are organised into six sheriffdoms and 49 sheriff court districts. The courts consider disputes such as damages, rent restriction, divorce and breach of contract. As is with all trials in the sheriff court, cases that fall within its civil jurisdiction are administered by sheriffs under one of three different proceedures – the small claim, the summary cause and the ordinary cause. Small claims proceedures can deal with claims of £3000 or less, summary cause proceedures deal with claims between £3000 and £5000 while ordinary cause claims are between £3000 and above.
The Court of Session based in Edinburgh consists of two houses, the Outer House and the Inner House. The Outer House is a court of first instance and boasts a far-reaching jurisdiction throughout scotland with 24 judges known as ''Lords Ordinary'' who each hold individual sessions. The Inner House, for the most part, is an...

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