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Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007

Section 67: Appointment of JPs

369.This section provides for the appointment of justices of the peace.

370.Subsection (1) makes it clear that JPs will be appointed by Scottish Ministers on behalf of and in the name of the Queen. This provision is essentially the same as the existing provision which provides for the appointment of JPs – section 9(1) of the District Courts (Scotland) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act).

371.Subsection (2) indicates that JPs are to be appointed to a sheriffdom. This provision should be read alongside section 62(4) which makes it clear that they will be able to perform judicial functions in any part of the sheriffdom to which they are appointed. Under sections 9(1) and 26(1) of the 1975 Act, JPs are currently able to perform judicial functions within the local authority area to which they are appointed. The Act therefore has the effect of widening the geographical area within which JPs can act.

372.Subsection (3) states that a JP’s appointment is for a term of five years. Under the 1975 Act, there was no limit to the length of a JP’s appointment (although all “full justices”, who were eligible to sit on the bench, had to become “signing justices” on the supplemental list when they reached the age of 70, and therefore ceased to be able to sit on the bench).

373.Subsection (5) requires the Scottish Ministers to comply with any order that they make as to procedure and consultation for appointing JPs. This provision reflects the terms of section 9(8A) of the 1975 Act, which was inserted into the 1975 Act by the Bail, Judicial Appointments etc (Scotland) Act 2000. No regulations have been made under section 9(8A) of the 1975 Act. An order under this subsection is likely to make it clear that candidates will be recommended to Scottish Ministers for appointment as JPs, prior to their first five year appointment, by Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees (JPAC), chaired by the sheriff principal of the relevant sheriffdom.

374.Further to subsection (6)(a), each JPAC will have a mixture of lay members and JPs. The order is also likely to make it clear that each JPAC should agree protocols with the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, setting out how it will recruit JPs. These protocols are likely to deal with matters such as the way in which JP vacancies should be publicly advertised.

375.Subsections (7) and (8) deal with existing justices of the peace. Subsection (7) makes provision for their appointment to be terminated on a date specified by order. However, the effect of subsections (7)(b) and (8) is that any full JPs who have been placed on the court rota during the 12 months before that specified date are to be appointed as a JP under subsection (1) unless they decline their appointment. This provision will ensure that all existing JPs who sit on the bench become subject to the new arrangements for JPs set out in this part of the Act. The intention is that the Executive will write to all current full JPs several months before their appointment is due to be terminated. It will explain that their appointment will cease on a given date, but state that they will be appointed as JPs providing they have been, or will be, placed on the court rota during the twelve months prior to that date and that they agree to meet certain conditions (these are dealt with in the next section). JPs who agree to this will return a form to the Executive, and will be reappointed as JPs. Their new appointments will start on the day that their old appointments cease.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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