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United Kingdom Law

Scottish Jurisdiction

Scots law is seen as a hybrid system, containing strands of both civil law and common law. "Historically, the Scottish legal system developed separately from the English common law, taking its roots instead of 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 conflicts, 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.

The Scottish Parliament

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 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.

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 from 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

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

  • Abbreviations: SC = Session Cases, Court of Sessions; SC (HL) = Session Cases, House of Lords; SC (J) = Session Cases, Court of Justiciary;  SC (PC) = Session Cases, Privy Council


Scottish Criminal Law (SCL) - monthly criminal case report series (2008 - )


Scots Law Times (SLT) - weekly law report series covering decisions of the Scottish courts (1893- )


Scots Revised Reports: Court of Session (Sc RR) Incorporates Scottish nominate reports (1821 - 1873):


Scots Revised Reports: House of Lords series (Sc RR) incorporates Scottish nominate reports (1707 - 1865):



Scottish Jurist: (SJ) Date range: 1829-1873 


Scottish Law Reporter (SLR)


Unreported Decisions

  • Scottish Court of Session decisions (1879 - (incomplete)) 
  • Scottish High Court of Justiciary decisions (1914 - (incomplete))
  • Scottish Sherrif Court decisions (1998 - )

Scottish Journals

Legal journals specific to Scotland include:

For more titles, check the Library catalogue.

Scottish Legal Research

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