We have prepared answers to our most commonly asked questions about appearing in court. We are happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Historically in Scotland a party could appear for themselves in any case in which they are personally interested. In certain criminal cases, however, there is now a requirement to be legally represented. Certain Courts and Tribunals allow “lay” representation in certain proceedings. Court representation is potentially complex and it is often better to have legal representation.
Some Courts may allow lay representation others discourage this. It is best to check with the Court involved as to what their rules and procedures might be.
Scotland has a fairly comprehensive system of Legal Aid for both civil and criminal proceedings. Most Solicitors who are registered to offer Legal Aid services should be able to advise when Legal Aid may be available.
In Scotland the Sheriff Court deals with a range of less serious criminal cases than the High Court. The High Court has more extensive sentencing powers. In the High Court all trials are heard before a jury. In the Sheriff Court the majority of trials are before a Sheriff only and relatively few trials involve a jury.
Civil cases generally involve individuals and/or businesses ascertaining their rights against each other and in areas such as commercial and business law, contracts and family law. Criminal cases involving alleged breaches of criminal law.
A Procurator Fiscal is a long established legal office in Scotland where the Procurator Fiscal is charged with prosecution in the public interest. All Procurators Fiscal are now qualified Solicitors or Advocates.
Generally the decision on whether a criminal matter goes before a jury or not lies with the prosecution. It is not possible for an accused to demand to be tried by a jury.
In some cases particularly legally complex cases it may be felt appropriate for an Advocate (the Scottish equivalent of a Barrister) to be instructed.
Charges are generally fixed by agreement between a Solicitor and their client. Sometimes Solicitor and client may agree to proceed on the basis of an hourly charge out rate and in other matters a block fee basis can be agreed. Legal Aid may be available in some cases to defray most or all Court costs.
This may depend on what any disciplinary procedure/guide book may say. In some cases even where Solicitor representation is not specifically provided for employers may permit this where this is likely to assist the parties.