Skip to main content

United Kingdom Legal Research: Scotland

This guide will help with your United Kingdom Legal Research.

Image: Scottish Parliament Building. Image source: Wikipedia

The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament/ Parlamaid na h-Alba

The Scotland Act 1998 established the first Parliament in Scotland since 1707. The Scottish Parliament has power to make laws on a range of issues that are known as devolved matters, including civil and criminal justice, education, environment, housing, social work and transport. Some issues concerning Scotland that have a UK or international impact remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament alone. These are known as reserved matters and include foreign affairs, defence, immigration and social security.

The Official Report is the full and authoritative written report of proceedings in the Scottish Parliament and its committees.

Scottish Legal Research

Law Society of Scotland, A General History of Scots Law

Walker, David (1997), The Scottish legal system : an introduction to the study of Scots law (UniM Law KL 12 WALK)

White, Robin and Willock, Ian (2007) The Scottish Legal System (UniM Law KL 12 WHIT)

Inman, Jane (2012), Finding official British information (UniM Law K 105.1 A1 INMA), especially the chapter on 'Devolved Parliament and Assemblies and regional government'.

Morais, Yasmin (2010), Scottish Legal History: A Research Guide - GlobaLex

Researching Scottish Law - free online guide from Globalex

Maher, Gerry and Rogers, Barry J. (2010), Civil jurisdiction in the Scottish courts (UniM Law KN 353 B2 X1 CIVI)

Scottish jurisdiction

Scots law is seen as a hybrid system, containg strands of both civil law and common law. "Historically, the Scottish legal system developed separately from the English common law, taking its roots instead from continental Roman-based civil law. However, it has been heavily anglicised because since 1707 its legislation has emanated from Westminster and its final Court of Appeal in civil cases has been the House of Lords" (Holborn (2006) Butterworths Legal Research Guide p.253).

After centuries of civil and cross border conficts, in 1707 Scotland signed the Treaty of Union with England and became part of the United Kingdom. Since the 1960's a continual push for devolution has resulted in the Scotland Act 1998. This Act allows for the Scottish Parliament to pass laws affecting Scotland on a range of issues.

This tab includes information on:

Scottish legislation

The Scottish Parliament is a devolved unicameral legislature that has the power to pass statutes only affecting Scotland on matters within its legislative competence under the Scotland Act 1998. Some Westminster (UK) acts will apply to Scotland, as part of the UK as a whole, on 'reserved matters' such as immigration, defence and foreign policy.

United Kingdom Scots Law Statutes (UKSCO-ST) and United Kingdom Scots Law in Force (UKSCO-LIF) on Westlaw International contain statutes currently in effect in Scotland, including acts of the Scottish Parliament and United Kingdom acts of Parliament that apply to or reference Scotland. Coverage begins with 1706.

Acts and statutory instruments of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 can be found at the following:

Scottish case law

The Scottish court structure differs to that of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. In the Scottish system, there are 4 levels of courts - the District Courts, the Sherrif Courts, the High Court of Justiciary, the Court of Session (Inner and Outer House) and the Supreme Court. As well as being the highest court of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the Supreme Court also hears appeals from the Inner House of the Court of Session. For more information, see the Scottish Courts website.

Law reports series specific to the Scots jurisdiction include:

Session Cases - Scotland's official law report series (1821- )

Scottish Criminal Law - monthly criminal case report series (2008- ) on Westlaw UK (UniM access)

Scots Law Times - weekly law report series covering decisions of the Scottish courts (1893- ) on Westlaw UK (UniM access)

Scots Revised Reports: Court of Session - incorporates Scottish nominate reports (1821 - 1873) (hard copy in the Law Library). First series contains Shaw v. 1-16 (1821-1838), second series contains Dunlop v. 1-24 (1838-1862) and third series contains Macpherson v. 1-11 (1862-1873).

Scots Revised Reports: House of Lords series - incorporates Scottish nominate reports (1707 - 1865) (online access through HeinOnline (UniM access) and in hard copy in the Law Library). This series contains Robertson's Appeals and Paton's Appeals (v. I, II and III) 1707-1797, Paton's Appeals (v. IV, V and VII) 1797-1821, Dow's Appeals (v. I to VI), and Bligh's Appeals (v. I to III) 1813-1821, Shaw's Appeals (2 v.) and Wilson & Shaw's Appeals (v. I and II) 1821-1827, Wilson & Shaw's Appeals (v. III to V) 1828-1831, Wilson & Shaw's Appeals (v. VI and VII), Shaw & Maclean's Appeals (v. I and II) 1832-1837, Shaw & Maclean's Appeals, (v. III), Maclean & Robinson's Appeals, Robinson's Appeals (v. I and II) 1838-1841, Bell's Appeals (v. I to VI) 1842-1849, Bell's Appeals, (v. VII), Macqueen's Appeals (v. I and II) 1850-1857, Macqueen's Appeals (v. III and IV) 1857-1865.

Scottish Jurist: reports of cases decided in the Supreme Courts of Scotland and in the House of Lords on Appeal from Scotland (1829-1873) - (online access through HeinOnline (UniM access)).

Scottish Law Reporter vol 1 (1865/66) - vol 61 (1923/24) - in print in the Law Library

Scottish Court of Session decisions (1879- incomplete) on BAILII

Scottish High Court of Justiciary decisions (1914- incomplete) on BAILII

Scottish Sherrif Court decisions (1998- ) on BAILII

More Scottish law reports are available through Westlaw UK.

Scottish journals

Legal journals specific to Scotland include:

Aberdeen Student Law Review (2010-) (UniMelb access)

The Edinburgh Law Review (1996-) (UniMelb access)

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (1956-) (Public access)

The Juridical Review (1889-) (UniMelb access)

The Scots Law Times (1893-) (Hard copy)

The Scottish Law Gazette (1933-) (Hard copy)

The Scottish Law Review and Reports of Cases in the Sheriff Courts of Scotland (1885-1963) (Hard copy)

The Stair Society (1936-) (Hard copy and online)

For more titles, check the Library catalogue.

For Scottish legal history, see publications of the Stair Society (UniMelb access)