College of Justice
The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme courts are the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Office of the Accountant of Court, the Auditor of the Court of Session, its associated bodies are the Faculty of Advocates, the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet and the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. The College is headed by the Lord President of the Court of Session, who holds the title of Lord Justice General in relation to the High Court of Justiciary, judges of the Court of Session and High Court are titled Senators of the College of Justice; the College was founded in 1532 by King James V following a bull issued by Pope Clement VII on 15 September 1531. It provided for 10,000 gold ducats to be contributed by the Scottish bishoprics and monastic institutions for the maintenance of its members, one half of whom would be members of the "ecclesiastical dignity".
The Parliament of Scotland passed an Act on 17 May 1532 authorising the creation of the college with 14 members, half spiritual, half temporal, plus a president and the Lord Chancellor. The college convened for the first time on 27 May 1532, in the royal presence. Supplementing the 14 ordinary lords, who were called Senators, were an indefinite number of supernumerary judges called extraordinary lords; the founding members of the College of Justice were: The Lord Chancellor, Gavin Dunbar, Archbishop of Glasgow The Lord President, Alexander Myln, Abbot of Cambuskenneth Richard Bothwell, Rector of Ashkirk John Dingwell, Provost of Trinity College Henry White, Rector of Finevin William Gibson, Dean of Restalrig Thomas Hay, Dean of Dunbar Robert Reid, Abbot of Kinloss George Ker, Provost of Dunglass Sir William Scott of Balweary Sir John Campbell of Lundy Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss Sir Adam Otterburn of Auldhame and Redhall, King's Advocate Nicholas Crawford of Oxengangs Francis Bothwell of Edinburgh James Lawson of Edinburgh Sir James Foulis of Colinton, added at the first meeting of the court when the king made him a "Lord of the Session".
The College at its foundation dealt with underdeveloped civil law. It did not dispense justice in criminal matters as, an area of the law reserved to the King's justice, through the justiciars, the Barony Courts and the Commission of Justiciary; the High Court of Justiciary was only incorporated into the College of Justice in 1672. There was little legal literature. Acts of the Parliament of Scotland and the books of the Old Law as well as Roman Law and Canon law texts were about all to which the pursuer and defender could refer, it was only after the establishment of the court that this situation improved, with judges noting their decisions in books of practicks. The Treaty of Union 1707 with England preserved the Scottish Legal System. Article XIX provided "that the Court of Session or College of Justice do after the Union and notwithstanding thereof remain in all time coming within Scotland, that the Court of Justiciary do after the Union... remain in all time coming." Senator of the College of Justice Historic List of Senators of the College of Justice Extraordinary Lord of Session Principal Clerk of Session and Justiciary Supreme Courts at the National Archives of Scotland
2011 Scottish Parliament election
The 2011 Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday, 5 May 2011 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. The election delivered the first majority government since the opening of Holyrood, a remarkable feat as the Additional Member System used to elect MSPs was implemented to prevent any party achieving an overall parliamentary majority; the Scottish National Party won 69 seats, the most the party has held at either a Holyrood or Westminster election, allowing leader Alex Salmond to remain First Minister of Scotland. The SNP gained 32 constituencies, twenty two from the Scottish Labour Party, nine from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and one from the Scottish Conservatives; such was the scale of their gains that, of the 73 constituencies in Scotland, only 20 came to be represented by MSPs of other political parties. The Scottish Labour Party lost seven seats and suffered their worst election defeat in Scotland since 1931, with huge losses in their traditional Central Belt constituencies and for the first time having to rely on the regional lists to elect members within these areas.
They did, remain the largest opposition party. Party leader Iain Gray announced his resignation following his party's disappointing result; the Scottish Liberal Democrats were soundly defeated. Tavish Scott announced his resignation as party leader shortly after the election. For Scottish Conservatives, the election proved disappointing as their popular vote dropped and their number of seats fell by 2, with party leader Annabel Goldie announcing her resignation. During the campaign, the four main party leaders engaged in a series of televised debates, as they had in every previous general election; these key debates were held on 29 March, 1 May, 3 May. The results of the election were broadcast live on BBC Scotland and STV, on the night of the election, it was the fourth general election since the devolved parliament was established in 1999 and was held on the same day as elections to the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as English local elections and the UK-wide referendum on the alternative vote.
Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament was held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2007 election. Because of the problems of voter confusion and a high number of spoilt ballots in 2007 due to holding Scottish parliamentary and local elections and under different voting systems, the next Scottish local elections were held in 2012 instead of 2011; this policy decision was contradicted, however, by the staging of the Alternative Vote referendum on 5 May 2011 as well. Labour MP Ian Davidson expressed opposition to the referendum being staged on the same date as other elections. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore stated that having the referendum on another date would cost an additional £17 million. British, Irish and European Union citizens living in Scotland who were aged 18 or over on election day were entitled to vote; the deadline to register to vote in the election was midnight on Friday 15 April 2011, though anyone who qualified as an anonymous elector had until midnight on Tuesday 26 April 2011 to register.
It was held on the same day as elections for Northern Ireland's 26 local councils, the Northern Irish Assembly and Welsh Assembly elections, a number of local elections in England and the United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum. The table below shows the notional figures for seats won by each party at the last election; the Conservatives have been the biggest gainers as a result of the boundary changes, winning an extra 3 seats and Labour has lost the most seats, losing 2 overall. The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament elected to the Parliament is 129; the First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions by the Boundary Commission for Scotland was announced on 3 July 2007. The Commission published its provisional proposals for the regional boundaries in 2009; the Scottish Parliament uses an Additional Members System, designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region. There are 8 regions each sub-divided into smaller constituencies.
There are a total of 73 constituencies. Each constituency elects one by the plurality system of election; each region elects seven additional member MSPs using an additional member system. A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to calculate which additional member MSPs the regions elect; the Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former Westminster constituencies were replaced with a new set of 59 larger, constituencies. For details of the Revised proposals for constituencies at the Next Scottish Parliament election - Scottish Parliament constituencies and regions from 2011 The Boundary Commission have recommended changes to the electoral regions used to elect "list" members of the Scottish Parliament; the recommendations can be summarised below. Glasgow Govan was replaced by Glasgow Southside; the seats of Glasgow Maryhill, Glasgow Springburn and Glasgow Baillieston were abolished and their territory was divided between the newly created Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn and Glasgow Provan, as well as the existing Glasgow Shettleston seat, moved eastwards.
Highlands and Islands retained 8 constituency seats. Caithness and Easter Ross was replaced with the larger Caithness and Ross seat. Ross, Skye an
2007 Scottish Parliament election
The 2007 Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday 3 May 2007 to elect members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the third general election to the devolved Scottish Parliament since it was created in 1999. Local elections in Scotland fell on the same day; the Scottish National Party emerged as the largest party with 47 seats followed by the incumbent Scottish Labour Party with 46 seats. The Scottish Conservatives won 17 seats, the Scottish Liberal Democrats 16 seats, the Scottish Green Party 2 seats and one Independent was elected; the SNP approached the Lib Dems for a coalition government, but the Lib Dems turned them down. The Greens agreed to provide the numbers to vote in an SNP minority government, with SNP leader Alex Salmond as First Minister; the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, which won seats in the 2003 election, lost all of their seats. Former MSP Tommy Sheridan's new party, Solidarity failed to win any seats. Campbell Martin and Dr Jean Turner both lost their seats, Dennis Canavan and Brian Monteith retired.
The main issues during the campaign trail were healthcare, council tax reform, the Union, the Iraq War and more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Some parties proposed raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18 and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 16 to 18. Jack McConnell, as First Minister, entered the election defending a small overall majority of five seats via a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats; the Lab-LD social liberal coalition had been in power, with three different First Ministers, since the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999. Opinion polls suggested its majority could be lost in 2007, due to falling support for the Labour Party and rising support for other parties, in particular the Scottish National Party; the polls suggested that no single party was to acquire an overall majority, nor was there an obvious alternative coalition ready to form a new Executive. A TNS Poll in November 2006 gave Labour an 8% lead over the SNP, second behind Labour in terms of numbers of Members of the Scottish Parliament.
As the election approached the SNP gained support while Labour's support declined. Based on pre-election projections, there could have been some possibility of an SNP–Liberal Democrat coalition, which might have extended to include the Scottish Green Party; the other parties represented in the Parliament before the election were the Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party, the British National Party, the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance, the Scottish Christian Party and the Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers Party. Susan Deacon, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh John Home Robertson, East Lothian Janis Hughes, Glasgow Rutherglen Kate Maclean, Dundee West Maureen Macmillan and Islands list Bruce McFee, West of Scotland list George Reid, Ochil Phil Gallie, South of Scotland list James Douglas-Hamilton, Lothians list Donald Gorrie, Central Scotland list Jim Wallace, Orkney Frances Curran, West of Scotland list Dennis Canavan, Falkirk West Brian Monteith, Mid Scotland and Fife list Gordon Jackson, Glasgow Govan Sylvia Jackson, Stirling Margaret Jamieson and Loudoun Maureen Macmillan and Islands Christine May, Fife Central Alasdair Morrison, Western Isles Bristow Muldoon, Livingston Allan Wilson, Cunninghame North Andrew Arbuckle, Mid Scotland and Fife Nora Radcliffe, Gordon Euan Robson and Berwickshire Dave Petrie and Islands Murray Tosh, West of Scotland Shiona Baird, North East Scotland Chris Ballance, South of Scotland Mark Ballard, Lothians Mark Ruskell, Mid Scotland and Fife Eleanor Scott and Islands Rosemary Byrne, South of Scotland Colin Fox, Lothians Rosie Kane, Glasgow Carolyn Leckie, Central Scotland Tommy Sheridan, Glasgow John Swinburne, Central Scotland Campbell Martin, West of Scotland - Former SNP MSP Jean Turner and Bearsden Turnout in the election was 51.7% in the constituency vote and 52.4% in the regional vote up from 2003 where the turnout was 49.4% in both the constituency and regional vote Notes: Independents contested 17 seats and three regions.
Scottish Greens contested 1 seat, Scottish Socialist Party contested 1 seat, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Voice etc. contested a small number of seats. A number of local issue parties stood in single constituencies; the Nine Per Cent Growth Party stood candidates on the regional lists, had a candidate for the local council elections of the same year. Standing in the Glasgow Regional List the party finished last of 23 candidates, receiving only 80 votes, a record low; some counts in the Western Isles were delayed because the chartered helicopter sent to pick up the ballot boxes was delayed by bad weather. The boxes were instead transferred by road to be counted in Stornoway; the votes were announced around 12.00 on Friday 4 May. A man smashed ballot boxes with a golf club at a polling station at Carrick Knowe in Corstorphine in Edinburgh. About 100 ballots were damaged; the man was arrested on the scene. The number of'invalid' ballot papers has increased from previous elections, the BBC reported that 142,000 were rejected.
The Herald reported that this included both constituency and regional
Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon is a Scottish politician serving as the fifth and current First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party since November 2014. She is the first woman to hold either position. Sturgeon has been a member of the Scottish Parliament since 1999, first as an additional member for the Glasgow electoral region from 1999 to 2007 and as the member for Glasgow Southside since 2007. A law graduate of the University of Glasgow, Sturgeon worked as a solicitor in Glasgow. After being elected to the Scottish Parliament, she served successively as the SNP's shadow minister for education and justice. In 2004 she announced that she would stand as a candidate for the leadership of the SNP following the resignation of John Swinney. However, she withdrew from the contest in favour of Alex Salmond, standing instead as depute leader on a joint ticket with Salmond. Both were subsequently elected, as Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon led the SNP in the Scottish Parliament from 2004 to 2007.
The SNP won the highest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament in the 2007 election and Salmond was subsequently appointed First Minister. He appointed Sturgeon as Deputy First Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, she was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Cities in 2012. Following the defeat of the "Yes" campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Salmond announced that he would be resigning as party leader at the SNP party conference that November, would resign as First Minister after a new leader was chosen. No one else was nominated for the post by the time nominations closed, leaving Sturgeon to take the party leadership unopposed at the SNP's annual conference, she was formally elected to succeed Salmond as First Minister on 19 November. Forbes magazine ranked Sturgeon as the 50th most powerful woman in the world in 2016 and 2nd in the United Kingdom. In 2015, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour assessed Sturgeon to be the most powerful and influential woman in the United Kingdom.
Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon was born in Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine, on 19 July 1970. She is the eldest of three daughters born to Robin Sturgeon, an electrician, Joan Kerr Sturgeon, a dental nurse, her family has some roots in North East England. Sturgeon grew up in Dreghorn, she attended Dreghorn Primary School from 1975 to 1982 and Greenwood Academy from 1982 to 1988. She studied at the University of Glasgow, where she studied Law. Sturgeon graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1992 and a Diploma in Legal Practice the following year. During her time at Glasgow University she was active as a member of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association and the students' representative council. Following her graduation, Sturgeon completed her legal traineeship at McClure Naismith, a Glasgow firm of solicitors, in 1995. After qualifying as a solicitor, she worked for Bell & Craig, a firm of solicitors in Stirling, at the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow from 1997 until her election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
In an interview with BBC's Women's Hour, Sturgeon revealed that it was Margaret Thatcher that inspired her to enter politics, due to rising unemployment in Scotland at the time, she developed "a strong feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by a Tory government that we hadn't elected". Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party in 1986, having become a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, became their Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener, she first stood for election in the 1992 general election as the SNP candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, failing to win the seat. Sturgeon stood unsuccessfully as the SNP candidate for the Irvine North ward on Cunninghame District Council in May 1992, for the Baillieston/Mount Vernon ward on Strathclyde Regional Council in 1994, for the Bridgeton ward on Glasgow City Council in 1995. In the mid-1990s, Sturgeon and Charles Kennedy went together on a political study visit to Australia.
The 1997 general election saw Sturgeon selected to fight the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Boundary changes meant. However, infighting between the two rival candidates for the Labour nomination, Mohammed Sarwar and Mike Watson, along with an energetic local campaign, resulted in Glasgow Govan being the only Scottish seat to see a swing away from Labour in the midst of a Labour landslide nationwide. Sarwar did, win the seat with a majority of 2,914 votes. Shortly after this, Sturgeon was appointed as the SNP's spokesperson for energy and education matters. Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 as the SNP candidate for Glasgow Govan. Although she failed to win the seat, she was placed first in the SNP's regional list for the Glasgow region, was thus elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. During the first term of the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon served as a member of the Shadow Cabinets of both Alex Salmond and John Swinney.
She was Shadow Minister for Children and Education from 1999 to 2000, Shadow Minister for Health and Community Care from 2000 to 2003, Shadow Minister for Justice from 2003 to 2004. She served as a member of the Education and Sport Committee and the Health and Community Care Committee. On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as Leader of the SNP following poor results in the Eu
2003 Scottish Parliament election
The Scottish Parliament election, 2003, was the second election of members to the Scottish Parliament. It was held on 1 May 2003 and it brought no change in terms of control of the Scottish Executive. Jack McConnell, the Labour Party Member of the Scottish Parliament, remained in office as First Minister and the Executive continued as a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition; as of 2019, it remains the last general election victory for the Scottish Labour Party. The results showed rises in support for smaller parties, including the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party and declines in support for the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party; the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats each polled exactly the same percentage of the vote as they had in the 1999 election, with each holding the same number of seats as before. Three independent MSPs were elected: Dennis Canavan, Margo MacDonald and Jean Turner. John Swinburne, leader of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, was elected.
This led to talk of a "rainbow" Parliament, but the arithmetic meant that the coalition of Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats could continue in office, which they did until the 2007 election. The decline in support for the SNP was viewed by some as a rejection of the case for Scottish independence. Others argued against this, pointing out that the number of MSPs in favour of independence rose because most of the minor parties such as the SSP share this position with the SNP. At the dissolution of Parliament on 31 March 2003, ten MSPs were not seeking re-election; the parliament was dissolved on 31 March 2003 and the campaign began thereafter. Labour – Jack McConnell SNP – John Swinney Conservative – David McLetchie Liberal Democrat – Jim Wallace Greens – Robin Harper & Eleanor Scott SSP – Tommy Sheridan Brian Fitzpatrick and Bearsden Rhoda Grant and Islands Iain Gray, Edinburgh Pentlands Angus MacKay, Edinburgh South Richard Simpson, Mid Scotland and Fife Elaine Thomson, Aberdeen North Kenneth Gibson, Glasgow Irene McGugan, North East Scotland Fiona McLeod, West of Scotland Gil Paterson, Central Scotland Lloyd Quinan, West of Scotland Michael Russell, South of Scotland Andrew Wilson, Central Scotland Keith Harding, Mid Scotland and Fife Lyndsay McIntosh, Central Scotland Notes: 1.
The Scottish Greens did not stand in any constituencies, instead concentrating their resources on winning the largest possible share of the "second" vote for'list' seats. 2. Three independents were elected: Margo MacDonald, Dennis Canavan and Jean Turner. 4. Overall turnout was 49.4%, down on the 1999 election. As part of the coalition deal between Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Labour allowed proportional representation to be used in Scottish local government elections; this system was first used in 2007. The Lib Dems declared a total of £130,358 was spent on the campaign, SSP spent £74,361 the Greens spent £65,852 and the Scottish Senior Citizens' Unity Party spent 3,558; the Scottish People's Alliance spent £188,889 and UKIP spent £39,504. Members of the Scottish Parliament, 2003-2007 Welsh Assembly election, 2003 and United Kingdom local elections, 2003 the same day British National Party- Freedom Pro-Life Alliance Scottish Liberal Democrats- Make the difference Scottish National Party- Release our potential Scottish Socialist Party – another Scotland is possible BBC: Vote Scotland 2003 Scottish Election Results 1997 – present
Politics of Scotland
Scotland is a country, in a political union with the rest of the United Kingdom. Having been directly governed by the UK Government since 1707, a system of devolution was established in 1999, after the Scottish people voted by a firm majority to re-establish a primary law making Scottish Parliament in a referendum held in 1997. Scotland entered into a political union with England in 1707, since has sent representatives to the Palace of Westminster, which succeeded the Parliament of England to become the British Parliament. 59 Members of Parliament represent Scottish constituencies at Westminster, issues such as the constitution, foreign affairs, social security, issues of medical ethics, fiscal and monetary policy are decided on a nationwide UK level. In 1999, a 129-member Scottish Parliament was established in Edinburgh. In the UK government, Scottish affairs are represented by the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP; the Scottish Government is headed by a First Minister, the leader of the political party with the most support in the Scottish Parliament Nicola Sturgeon MSP.
The head of state in Scotland is the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. There are six Members of the European Parliament elected by Scotland, as the UK is a member state of the European Union. Scotland can best be described as having a multi-party system. In the Scottish Parliament, the centre-left pro-independence Scottish National Party is the party which forms the devolved government. Opposition parties include: the Scottish Conservative Party, Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Green Party. Elections are held once every five years, with 73 Members being elected to represent constituencies, the remaining 56 elected via a system of proportional representation. At Westminster, Scotland is represented by 35 MPs from the Scottish National Party, 13 from the Conservative Party, 7 MPs from the Labour Party and 4 from the Liberal Democrats. Today, the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom remains a prominent political issue. On Thursday 18 September 2014, the Scottish electorate voted in a referendum on whether or not to become independent, opted to stay as part of the United Kingdom, with 55.3% voting to stay in the United Kingdom and 44.7% voting for independence.
The party with the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament is the Scottish National Party, which campaigns for Scottish independence. The current First Minister of Scotland is SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has led a government since November 2014; the previous First Minister, Alex Salmond, led the SNP to an overall majority victory in the May 2011 general election, lost in 2016 and now forms a minority government. Other parties represented in the parliament are the Labour Party, Conservative Party which form the official opposition, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party; the next Scottish Parliament election is due to be held in May 2021. Under devolution, Scotland is represented by 59 MPs in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies, out of a total of 650 MPs in the House of Commons. A Secretary of State for Scotland, who prior to devolution headed the system of government in Scotland, sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and is responsible for the limited number of powers the office retains since devolution, as well as relations with other Whitehall Ministers who have power over reserved matters.
The Scottish Parliament can refer devolved matters back to Westminster to be considered as part of United Kingdom-wide legislation by passing a Legislative Consent Motion — referred to as a Sewel Motion. This has been done on a number of occasions where it has been seen as either more efficient, or more politically expedient to have the legislation considered by Westminster; the Scotland Office is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for reserved Scottish affairs. The current Secretary of State for Scotland is a Conservative; until 1999, Scottish peers were entitled to sit in the House of Lords. The main political debate in Scotland tends to revolve around attitudes to the constitutional question. Under the pressure of growing support for Scottish independence, a policy of devolution had been advocated by all three GB-wide parties to some degree during their history; this question dominated the Scottish political scene in the latter half of the twentieth century with Labour leader John Smith describing the revival of a Scottish parliament as the "settled will of the Scottish people".
Now that devolution has occurred, the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status is over whether the Scottish Parliament should accrue additional powers, or seek to obtain full independence. The long term question is: should the Scottish parliament continue to be a subsidiary assembly created and abolished by the constitutionally dominant and sovereign parliament of the United Kingdom or should it have an independent existence as of right, with full sovereign powers? To clarify these issues, the SNP-led Scottish Government published Choosing Scotland's Future, a consultation document directed to the electorate under the National Conv
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is a hybrid or mixed legal system containing civil law and common law elements, that traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. Together with English law and Northern Irish law, it is one of the three legal systems of the United Kingdom. Early Scots law before the 12th century consisted of the different legal traditions of the various cultural groups who inhabited the country at the time, the Gaels in most of the country, with the Britons and Anglo-Saxons in some districts south of the Forth and with the Norse in the islands and north of the River Oykel; the introduction of feudalism from the 12th century and the expansion of the Kingdom of Scotland established the modern roots of Scots law, influenced by other Anglo-Norman and continental legal traditions. Although there was some indirect Roman law influence on Scots law, the direct influence of Roman law was slight up until around the 15th century. After this time, Roman law was adopted in argument in court, in an adapted form, where there was no native Scots rule to settle a dispute.
Scots law recognises four sources of law: legislation, legal precedent, specific academic writings, custom. Legislation affecting Scotland may be passed by the Scottish Parliament, the United Kingdom Parliament, the European Union; some legislation passed by the pre-1707 Parliament of Scotland is still valid. Since the Union with England Act 1707, Scotland has shared a legislature with Wales. Scotland retained a fundamentally different legal system from that south of the border, but the Union exerted English influence upon Scots law. Since the UK joined the European Union, Scots law has been affected by European law under the Treaties of the European Union, the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the creation of the devolved Scottish Parliament which may pass legislation within all areas not reserved to Westminster, as detailed by the Scotland Act 1998; the United Kingdom, consists of three jurisdictions: England and Wales and Northern Ireland. There are important differences between Scots Law, English law and Northern Irish law in areas such as property law, criminal law, trust law, inheritance law, evidence law and family law while there are greater similarities in areas of national interest such as commercial law, consumer rights, employment law and health and safety regulations.
Examples of differences between the jurisdictions include the age of legal capacity, the fact that equity was never a distinct branch of Scots law. Some examples in criminal law include: The use of 15-member juries for criminal trials in Scotland who always decide by simple majority; the accused in a criminal trial does not have the right to elect between a jury trial. Judges and juries of criminal trials have the "third verdict" of "not proven" available to them. There are differences in the terminology used between the jurisdictions. For example, in Scotland there are no Magistrates' Courts or Crown Court, but there are Justice of the Peace Courts, Sheriff Courts and the College of Justice; the Procurator Fiscal Service provides the independent public prosecution service for Scotland like the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland. Scots law can be traced to its early beginnings as a number of different custom systems among Scotland's early cultures to its modern role as one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.
The various historic sources of Scots law, including custom, feudal law, canon law, civilian ius commune and English law have created a hybrid or mixed legal system. The nature of Scots law before the 12th century is speculative, but is to have been a mixture of different legal traditions representing the different cultures inhabiting the land at the time, including Gaelic, Welsh and Anglo-Saxon customs. There is evidence to suggest that as late as the 17th century marriage laws in the Highlands and Islands still reflected Gaelic custom, contrary to Catholic religious principles; the formation of the Kingdom of Scotland and its subjugation of the surrounding cultures, completed by the Battle of Carham, established what are the boundaries of contemporary mainland Scotland. The Outer Hebrides were added after the Battle of Largs in 1263, the Northern Isles were acquired in 1469, completing what is today the legal jurisdiction of Scotland. From the 12th century feudalism was introduced to Scotland and established feudal land tenure over many parts of the south and east, which spread northward.
As feudalism began to develop in Scotland early court systems began to develop, including early forms of Sheriff Courts. Under Robert the Bruce the importance of the Parliament of Scotland grew as he called parliaments more and its composition shifted to include more representation from the burghs and lesser landowners. In 1399 a General Council established that the King should hold a parliament at least once a year for the next three years so "that his subjects are served by the law". In 1318 a parliament at Scone enacted a code of law that drew upon older practices, but it was dominated by current events and focused on military matters and the conduct of the war of Scottish Independence. From the 14th century we have surviving examples of early Scottish legal literature, such as the Regiam Majestatem and the Quoniam Attachiamenta (on procedure