A court clerk (British English clerk to the court; American English clerk of the court or clerk of court) is an officer of the court whose responsibilities include maintaining records of a court. Another duty is to administer oaths to witnesses, jurors, and grand jurors.
British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".
American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.
In common law jurisdictions, the generic term officer of the court is applied to all those who, in some degree in function of their professional or similar qualifications, have a part in the legal system. Officers of the court should not be confused with court officers, the law enforcement personnel who work in courts.
In the magistrates' courts of England and Wales, where the bench will usually have no legal qualifications, the court clerk will be legally qualified. The magistrates decide on the facts at issue; the clerk advises them on the law relating to the case.
In England and Wales, a magistrates' court is a lower court which holds trials for summary offences and preliminary hearings for more serious ones. Some civil matters are also decided here, notably family proceedings. In 2015, there were roughly 330 magistrates' courts in England and Wales, though the government was considering closing up to 57 of these. The jurisdiction of magistrates' courts and rules governing them are set out in the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980.
England and Wales is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four nations of the United Kingdom. "England and Wales" forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows a single legal system, known as English law.
Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from judges formerly having sat on long seats or benches when presiding over a court. The bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom.
Clerks of court can be found at every level of the Courts of Scotland, with a legally qualified clerk acting as legal adviser to justices of the peace in justice of the peace courts.In the sheriff courts the clerk is known as a sheriff clerk, and the sheriff clerks are responsible for the administration and running of all cases in the court. Clerks also support and administer the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary, with the Principal Clerk of Session and Justiciary responsible for the administration of the Supreme Courts of Scotland and for directing their associated staff.
The courts of Scotland are responsible for administration of justice in Scotland, under statutory, common law and equitable provisions within Scots law. The courts are presided over by the judiciary of Scotland, who are the various judicial office holders responsible for issuing judgments, ensuring fair trials, and deciding on sentencing. The Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland, subject to appeals to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and the High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court, which is only subject to the authority of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on devolution issues and human rights compatibility issues.
A justice of the peace (JP) is a judicial officer of a lower or puisne court, elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. In past centuries the term commissioner of the peace was often used with the same meaning. Depending on the jurisdiction, such justices dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are usually not required to have any formal legal education in order to qualify for the office. Some jurisdictions have varying forms of training for JPs.
A justice of the peace court is the least authoritative type of criminal court in Scotland. The court operates under summary procedure and deals primarily with less serious criminal offences.
In federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, the various United States District Courts and United States Bankruptcy courts and other Article III courts all employ a "clerk of court" who is the executive hired by the board of judges of the court to carry out the administration of the court. Among the clerk’s core duties are the maintenance of the records of the court, the custody and administration of the funds received by and dispensed from the court, the oversight of non-judicial personnel, and the provision of services to the judges of the court.
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about 100–150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review.
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Under Article Three, the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as lower courts created by Congress. Article Three empowers the courts to handle cases or controversies arising under federal law, as well as other enumerated areas. Article Three also defines treason.
A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England, where the office originated. There is an analogous although independently developed office in Iceland that is commonly translated to English as sheriff, and this is discussed below.
The Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General is the most senior judge in Scotland, the head of the judiciary, and the presiding judge of the College of Justice, the Court of Session, and the High Court of Justiciary. The Lord President holds the title of Lord Justice General of Scotland and the head of the High Court of Justiciary ex officio, as the two offices were combined in 1836. The Lord President has authority over any court established under Scots law, except for the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Court of the Lord Lyon.
The Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland and constitutes part of the College of Justice; the supreme criminal court of Scotland is the High Court of Justiciary. The Court of Session sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh and is both a trial court and a court of appeal. Decisions of the Court can be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, with the permission of either the Inner House or the Supreme Court. The Court of Session and the local sheriff courts of Scotland have concurrent jurisdiction for all cases with a monetary value in excess of £100,000; the pursuer is given first choice of court. However, the majority of complex, important, or high value cases are brought in the Court of Session. Cases can be remitted to the Court of Session from the sheriff courts, including the Sheriff Personal Injury Court, at the request of the presiding sheriff. Legal aid, administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, is available to persons with little disposable income for cases in the Court of Session.
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland. The High Court is both a trial court and a court of appeal. As a trial court, the High Court sits on circuit at Parliament House or the former Sheriff Court building in Edinburgh, or in dedicated buildings in Glasgow and Aberdeen. The High Court sometimes sits in various smaller towns in Scotland, where it uses the local sheriff court building. As an appeal court the High Court sits only in Edinburgh.
A sheriff court is the principal local civil and criminal court in Scotland, with exclusive jurisdiction over all civil cases with a monetary value up to £100,000, and with the jurisdiction to hear any criminal case except treason, murder, and rape which are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of Justiciary. Though the sheriff courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court over armed robbery, drug trafficking, and sexual offences involving children, the vast majority of these cases are heard by the High Court. Each court serves a sheriff court district within one of the six sheriffdoms of Scotland. Each sheriff court is presided over by a sheriff, who is a legally qualified judge, and part of the judiciary of Scotland.
The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) is an independent public body which is responsible for the administration of the courts and tribunals of Scotland. The Service is led by a board which is chaired by the Lord President of the Court of Session, and employs over 1000 staff members in the country's 39 sheriff courts, 34 justice of the peace courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary, and at the service's headquarters in Edinburgh. The day-to-day administration of the service is the responsibility of its Chief Executive and Executive Directors. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is also responsible for providing administrative services for the Judicial Office for Scotland, the Office of the Public Guardian, the Accountant of Court, the Criminal Courts Rules Council, and the Scottish Civil Justice Council.
A district court was the least authoritative type of criminal court of Scotland. The courts operated under summary procedure and dealt primarily with minor criminal offences. The district courts were administered by the district councils established under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Following the passage of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 by the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Ministers abolished the district courts and transferred their functions to the justice of the peace courts, which are administered by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and subject to the authority of the Lord President of the Court of Session.
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance. The chief justice is the Lord President, with their deputy being the Lord Justice Clerk, and judges of the Inner House are styled Senators of the College of Justice or Lords of Council and Session. Criminal appeals in Scotland are handled by the High Court of Justiciary sitting as the Court of Appeal.
The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland is an advisory non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for making recommendations on appointments to certain offices of the judiciary of Scotland. It was established in June 2002 on a non-statutory, ad-hoc, basis by the Scottish Government, and was given statutory authority by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.
The Scottish Land Court is a Scottish court of law based in Edinburgh with subject-matter jurisdiction covering disputes between landlords and tenants relating to agricultural tenancies, and matters related to crofts and crofters. The Scottish Land Court is both a trial court and an appeal court; hearings at first-instance are often heard by a Divisional Court of one of the Agricultural Members advised by the Principal Clerk. Decisions of the Divisional Court can be appealed to the Full Court, which will consist of at least one legally qualified judicial member and the remaining Agricultural Member. Some cases are heard at first-instance by the Full Court, and these cases may be appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session.
An Act of Sederunt is secondary legislation made by the Court of Session, the supreme civil court of Scotland, to regulate the proceedings of Scottish courts and tribunals hearing civil matters. Originally made under an Act of the Parliament of Scotland of 1532, the modern power to make Acts of Sederunt is largely derived from the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. Since 2013, draft Acts have also been prepared by the Scottish Civil Justice Council and submitted to the Court of Session for approval.
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.
In the legal system of England and Wales, there is a history of involving lay people, namely people from the local community who are not required to hold any legal qualifications, in the judicial decision-making process of the courts. They are called justices of the peace or magistrates.
The judiciary of Scotland are the judicial office holders who sit in the courts of Scotland and make decisions in both civil and criminal cases. Judges make sure that cases and verdicts are within the parameters set by Scots law, and they must hand down appropriate judgments and sentences. Judicial independence is guaranteed in law, with a legal duty on Scottish Ministers, the Lord Advocate and the Members of the Scottish Parliament to uphold judicial independence, and barring them from influencing the judges through any form of special access.
"Clerk of Session" redirects here; not to be confused with Session Clerk, see Moderators and clerks in the Church of Scotland.
The Sheriff Personal Injury Court is a Scottish court with exclusive competence over claims relating to personal injury where the case is for a work-related accident claim in excess of £1,000, where the total amount claimed is in excess of £5,000, or where a sheriff in a local sheriff court remits proceedings to the Personal Injury Court. It has concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Session for all claims in excess of £100,000, and concurrent jurisdiction with the local sheriff courts for personal injury claims within its competence.
The Sheriff Appeal Court is court in Scotland that hears appeals from summary criminal proceedings in the sheriff courts and justice of the peace courts, and hears appeals on bail decisions made in solemn proceedings in the sheriff court. The Sheriff Appeal Court also hears appeals in civil cases from the sheriff courts, including the Sheriff Personal Injury Court.
The Scottish Sentencing Council is an advisory non-departmental public body in Scotland that produces sentencing guidelines for use in the High Court of Justiciary, sheriff courts and justice of the peace courts. Judges, sheriffs, and justices of the peace must use the guidelines to inform the sentence they pronounce against a convict, and they must give reasons for not following the guidelines.
A legal adviser in the court gives advice on the law and makes sure the magistrates follow the right procedures.
Day-to-day responsibility for judicial administration rests with each individual court.