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Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Judicial specialisation

60.Sections 34 to 37 are new provisions which implement the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review in relation to the desirability of greater specialisation in the sheriff courts.

Section 34 – Determination of categories of case for purposes of judicial specialisation

61.This section permits the Lord President to decide categories of cases within the sheriff courts which should be heard by judicial officers who specialise in that category of case.

62.Subsection (2) provides that the categories of cases designated for specialisation by the Lord President may be determined by subject matter, value or other such criteria as the Lord President considers appropriate. Subsections (3) and (4) give the Lord President further flexibility in relation to the operation of specialisation among the judicial officers.

Section 35 – Designation of specialist judiciary

63.Once categories of cases for specialist treatment have been determined by the Lord President, section 35 permits a sheriff principal to designate one or more sheriffs or summary sheriffs as specialists in one or more of those categories. Under subsections (5) and (6), the Lord President is similarly permitted to designate one or more part-time sheriffs or part-time summary sheriffs as specialists in cases falling within designated categories and which are within the competence of those judicial officers.

64.Subsection (7) provides that the designation of a judicial officer as a specialist in one of the categories determined by the Lord President does not affect that officer’s ability to deal with cases other than those in relation to which they have been designated as specialist, nor does it mean that a judicial officer who has not been designated as a specialist cannot deal with a matter that falls within a specialisation.

Section 36 – Allocation of business to specialist judiciary

65.Section 36 places a duty on both the Lord President and the sheriff principal of a sheriffdom, when allocating business within a sheriffdom, to have regard to the desirability of ensuring that cases which fall within the specialist categories are dealt with by judicial officers who are designated as specialists in those categories.

Section 37 – Saving for existing powers to provide for judicial specialisation

66.Section 37 provides that, despite the provisions of sections 34 to 36, any other power which the Lord President already has to allocate business, including specialist business, among the judiciary of the sheriff courts is not affected by those sections.

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