Scottish Court Service

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The Scottish Court Service (SCS) is the body which is responsible for the administration of the court system of Scotland. The Service is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government. It employs over 1000 staff members in the country's 49 Sheriff Courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary, Justice of the Peace Courts and at the Service's HQ in Edinburgh.

History[edit]

The Scottish Court Administration, later to be called the Scottish Court Service, was created in 1995 by the Scottish Office as an executive agency, which became an agency of the Scottish Government after functions were transferred under devolution. In common with the Scottish Prison Service in the Scottish justice system, this arm's length approach was adopted to prevent direct ministerial involvement in the administration of justice.

On 1 April 2010 it was established by section 60 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 [1] as an independent body, governed by a Corporate Board and chaired by the Lord President, the most senior judge in Scotland.

Functions[edit]

The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 has resulted in the unification of the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, Sheriff and Justice of the Peace courts. The SCS has the function of providing, or ensuring the provision of, the property, services, officers and other staff required for the purposes of all these courts (by virtue of section 61(1) of the 2008 Act).

It has the responsibility of assisting the Scottish judiciary (by virtue of section 61(1)(b) of the 2008 Act), and assists the Lord President in his role as head of the Scottish judiciary (section 62 of the 2008 Act). This is coupled with assisting the Criminal Courts Rules Council and the Scottish Civil Justice Council.

The Service is also responsible for the administration of the Office of the Public Guardian, based in Falkirk, and assists the Accountant of Court (sections 62 and 33 of the 2008 Act).

Another consequence of the Act was the introduction of Fines Enforcement Officers. With effect from 10 March 2008 these officers, staff of SCS, will bring a more proactive approach to fines enforcement. A total of 31 members of staff will have responsibility for making sure that fines are paid on time and if offenders fall into arrears with payment the those staff will use a variety of means to secure payment. Special measures that may be used will include deductions from state benefits; arrestment of wages and/or funds contained in bank accounts and seizure (and subsequent sale) of vehicles. In cases where it becomes apparent that the offender genuinely cannot pay they will be provided with contact details for other Agencies that will be able to provide guidance and help in organising the offender's finances. [2]

Leadership and administration[edit]

The new Scottish Court Service Board was appointed by the Lord President on 18 December 2009 [3] and comprises a majority of judicial officeholders and legal practitioners, by virtue of Schedule 3 to the 2008 Act. The Board formally took up responsibility on 1 April 2010 and is responsible for developing the strategic direction and operational efficiency of the Service. In September 2012, the Board put forward a document for "consultation" that, if approved, would render it in breach of its statutory duty as covered by Section 61(2) of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.[4]

The response of the Scottish ministers is awaited.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "There is established a body corporate to be known as the Scottish Court Service (referred to in this Part as “the SCS”)." "Section 60 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 (asp 6)". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  2. ^ Scottish Courts - Fine Enforcement "Scottish Courts - Fine Enforcement". Scottish Court Service. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  3. ^ http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/courtsadmin/governance.asp Scottish Court Service - Governance
  4. ^ Macnab, Scott (22 September 2012). "Fears for Scottish justice system as 11 sheriff courts earmarked for axe". The Scotsman. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

UK (Scotland) Legislation[edit]