Justice of the peace courts
Section 57 – Establishment, constitution etc.
108.Section 59 of the 2007 Act provides the Scottish Ministers with a power to establish Justice of the Peace courts (“JP courts”) by order, with reference to particular sheriff court districts. Before making an order establishing JP courts, the Scottish Ministers must consult the sheriff principal for the relevant sheriffdom. Subsection (5) requires the Scottish Ministers, in deciding whether a JP court is necessary, to take account of the amount of summary criminal business and the capacity of other JP or sheriff courts in the sheriffdom. Subsection (6) provides that, where JP courts have been established, the Scottish Ministers may subsequently, by order, provide for the relocation or disestablishment of a JP court. Subsection (7) provides that, before making such an order, the Scottish Ministers must consult the sheriff principal for the relevant sheriffdom. Section 57(2) amends section 59 to make the exercise of this power subject to the consent of the Lord President and the SCS. Before consenting to such an order the Lord President must consult the sheriff principal and the SCS must consult such persons as it considers appropriate. This reflects the Lord President’s responsibility for securing the efficient disposal of business in the Scottish courts in section 2(2)(a) and the SCS’s responsibility for the provision and resourcing of courts in Scotland.
109.Section 63(2) of the 2007 Act provides that the Scottish Ministers may amend section 6 (2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (c.46) so that it provides that a JP court (where not constituted by a stipendiary magistrate) is to be constituted by one JP only. Section 57(3) amends section 63 to provide that this power may only be exercised on the recommendation of the Lord President.
Section 58 - Sheriff principal’s responsibility
110.Section 61 of the 2007 Act places the responsibility for the efficient administration of justice of the peace courts in the sheriffdom on the sheriff principal. In exercising this responsibility, the sheriff principal may issue administrative directions to those involved in the administration of JP courts (other than the Scottish Ministers). The Scottish Ministers may also issue administrative directions for the purpose of ensuring the efficient administration of JP courts, subject to prior consultation with the sheriff principal.
111.Section 58 substitutes a new section 61 in the 2007 Act. This mirrors the provisions made at section 47 in respect of the responsibilities of sheriff principals for sheriff courts, as described at paragraph 96 above. New subsections (2) and (3) give sheriffs principal the power to give administrative directions to any justice of the peace, including part-time justices of the peace, within their sheriffdom and also the staff of the SCS within their sheriffdom - such directions must be complied with. Administrative directions by their nature must be in pursuance of the sheriff principal’s duty to ensure the efficient disposal of business.
112.Subsection (4) recognises the over arching role of the Lord President in respect of the efficient disposal of business across all courts in Scotland and makes the duties and responsibilities of sheriffs principal subject to that role and to the direction giving power of the Lord President at sub-section 2(3).