District court (Scotland)

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District courts of Scotland
Flag of Scotland.svg
Flag of Scotland
Established 1975
Dissolved 2010
Jurisdiction districts of Scotland
Composition method Appointed by Commission of the Peace for each district
Authorized by District Courts (Scotland) Act 1975
Decisions are appealed to High Court of Justiciary
Judge term length not specified
Number of positions Bench of either three lay justices of the peace, or one stipendiary magistrate

A district court was the least authoritative type of criminal court of Scotland. The courts operated under summary procedure and dealt primarily with minor criminal offences. The district courts were administered by the district councils established under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Following the passage of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 by the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Ministers abolished the district courts and transferred their functions to the justice of the peace courts, which are administered by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and subject to the authority of the Lord President of the Court of Session.

History[edit]

Establishment[edit]

District courts were introduced in 1975 by the District Courts (Scotland) Act 1975, as part of the local government reorganisation process as a replacement for Burgh Police Courts and sat in each local authority area under summary procedure only.[1] The district courts were administered by the district council within whose jurisdiction it operated; the district councils were established under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.[2] Each court comprised one or more justices of the peace — lay magistrates appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland and later the Scottish Ministers — who sat singly or in threes; a qualified legal assessor acted as clerk of court.[3][4]

Abolition[edit]

The district courts was abolished in a rolling programme between 10 March 2008 and 22 February 2010, following the passage of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 by the Scottish Parliament. The 2007 Act enabled the Scottish Ministers to replace district courts by "justice of the peace courts".[5] This allowed the Scottish Government to unify the administration of the sheriff courts and district courts in Scotland, but retaining lay justices of the peace. The new justice of the peace courts are managed by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and are organised by sheriffdom.[6] Responsibility for the Courts was transferred from the local authorities in a rolling programme of court unification that concluded in February 2010.[7]

The district courts were replaced by justice of the peace courts by a series of Scottish Statutory Instruments as follows:

Remit and jurisdiction[edit]

They handled many cases of breach of the peace, minor assaults, petty theft, and offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. However, they could handle any offence that could competently be dealt with under summary procedure. Their sentencing powers of lay justices were limited to a fine in excess of £2,500 or imprisonment of up to 60 days. In practice, most offences were dealt with by a fine.[14]

Stipendary magistrates[edit]

In Glasgow, the volume of business required the employment of four solicitors as stipendiary magistrates who sit in place of the lay justices. The Stipendiary Magistrates' court remained under the new JP court system, and had the same sentencing power as the summary Sheriff Court.[15] The office of stipendiary magistrate was abolished following the passage of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, and replaced with the new office of summary sheriff.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ UK Parliament. District Courts (Scotland) Act 1975 as amended (see also enacted form), from legislation.gov.uk.
  2. ^ UK Parliament. Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 as amended (see also enacted form), from legislation.gov.uk.
  3. ^ Review of the Summary Justice System: "The Summary Justice Review Committee: Report to Ministers". Scottish Government. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  4. ^ "About District Courts". City of Glasgow Council. 4 August 2008. Archived from the original on 4 August 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "The Scottish Ministers may by order establish courts of summary criminal jurisdiction to be known as justice of the peace courts." "Section 59(1) of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (asp 6)". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  6. ^ "About Justice of the Peace Courts". www.scotcourts.gov.uk. Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  7. ^ McCallum, Frazer (24 August 2011). "SPICe Briefing | The Scottish Criminal Justice System: The Criminal Courts" (PDF). parliament.scot. Scottish Parliament Information Centre. p. 5. Retrieved 20 May 2017. Justice of the peace courts were created by the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007, replacing the former district courts (administered by local authorities) on a sheriffdom by sheriffdom basis between 2008 and 2010. 
  8. ^ "JD Circular No: JD/1/2008: The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 3 and Savings) Order 2008". www.gov.scot. Scottish Government. 25 February 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "Criminal Justice Directorate Circular No: JD/5/2008: The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2008". www.gov.scot. Scottish Government. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "Criminal Justice Directorate Circular JD/9/2008 The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 5) Order 2008.". www.gov.scot. Scottish Government. 24 November 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  11. ^ "JD Circular No. JD/2/2009 The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform)(Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 6) Order 2008". www.gov.scot. Scottish Government (published 23 February 2009). 10 February 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Scottish Parliament. The Justice of the Peace Courts (Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde) etc. Order 2009 as made, from legislation.gov.uk.
  13. ^ Scottish Parliament. The Justice of the Peace Courts (Sheriffdom of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway) etc. Order 2009 as made, from legislation.gov.uk.
  14. ^ A history of Justices of the Peace: "District Court and JP Court: Past, present and future" (PDF). Scottish Justices Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  15. ^ "Justice of the Peace Courts". City of Glasgow Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  16. ^ "Summary Sheriffs". www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk. Judicial Office for Scotland. 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017. The 2014 Act also abolished the office of stipendiary magistrate...Part-time stipendiary magistrates will become part-time summary sheriffs from 1 April: J Kevin Duffy, Colin Dunipace, J Euan Edment, Sukhwinder Gill, David Griffiths, Diana McConnell.