This website is no longer being updated. Please go to GOV.SCOT

Civil Courts and Tribunals

DescriptionThe main civil courts are the Court of Session and the Sheriff Courts. They deal with matters such as compensation claims, debt and family issues.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJuly 31, 2003

<Back to Civil Law & Civil Justice>
<Back to Courts>


The Court of Session is the supreme civil court in Scotland. It is based in Edinburgh. The Court of Session is both a court at first instance for initial consideration of cases and the court of appeal for most civil matters, although Sheriffs Principal can also hear appeals at local level as an alternative.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Session (ie the civil matters it deals with) as a court of first instance is broadly the same as the jurisdiction of the sheriff court although there are some matters that can be raised only in the Court of Session - judicial review of decisions by administrative authorities is an example.

Decisions of the Court of Session in appeals are subject to ultimate appeal to the House of Lords.

The Sheriff Court is the local court and there are 49 sheriff courts across Scotland. The sheriff courts deal with the majority of civil cases although, as noted above, its jurisdiction at first instance is broadly the same as the Court of Session. Civil matters dealt with in the sheriff court include debt, claims for compensation, contract disputes, family matters such as divorce, eviction, anti-social behaviour and various applications under statutes concerned with matters such as licensing, bankruptcy and steps relating to enforcement of debt.

There are other minor civil court for specialist areas such as the Land Court for dealing with crofting issues.

Tribunals also sit in Scotland, covering a wide range of subjects including employment, education, children's hearings, social security and tax. These tribunals sit in various locations across Scotland, though most cases are heard in the major centres of population, principally Edinburgh and Glasgow. Most of the tribunals are supervised by the Scottish Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, whose statutory role is to keep under review the constitution and working of tribunals operating in Scotland. Further information on Tribunals is contained in the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council website

More information on the courts and court procedures is available at the SCS website.