Specifically Scottish Legal Resources

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UK Legal Sites and Resources
(not just Scottish)
Parliament, Government, Courts
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Scottish Academic Sites Property Related Sites
Scottish News & Newspapers Blogs... and General Interest

Sites covering The Scottish Parliament, Government and the Courts

  • The Scottish Parliament was the first Parliamentary web site in the world to have started before the Parliament came into existence! This provided an unusual test for the people designing the site. There are lists of Parliamentary Questions (written ones) and the Official Report, the equivalent of Hansard. Bills before Parliament are available on the site in pdf format, together with commentary and information on the stage the Bill has reached. There is information about MSP's and there is a special section for young people and teachers.

  • Scottish Legislation, as it develops, can be found here on a special part of the Office of Public Sector Information site (OPSI). OPSI has the lead for the UK implementation of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 and part of its role is to manage the online activities of HMSO. There are about eighty Scottish Acts, grouped by each year since 1999, shown as originally passed by the Scottish Parliament and quite a number of Statutory Instruments. There is also a separate page of links to UK Acts relating exclusively or primarily to Scotland. The Scotland Act 1998 (the Devolution Act) is also there.

  • Scottish Government. The devolved Government for Scotland is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport. It manages an annual budget of more than £30 billion in 2007-2008. It is a lively site, aimed at "ordinary people" with current news on the front page and links to other important sites. The work of each department is described, and contact details are given. There is also a most impressive list of links, covering Scottish Government and public bodies, Scottish Local Government, UK and European Sites, and other Scottish sites.

  • Judiciary of Scotland is designed to increase public understanding and awareness of what takes place in courts each day across Scotland. There is information about judges and the work they do in each of the different courts as well as helpful advice for individuals attending court or wanting to learn more about the system. There is up-to-date information on the latest sentencing statements and summaries of opinions, fatal accident inquiry determinations and other major court decisions in Scotland.

  • The Scottish Council of Law Reporting is now providing a database of important Scottish cases from 1873 to 2007, as an open access resource. They have previously provided the law-teaching universities in Scotland with a CD-ROM of this material as a learning aid to their students but in this new form, the archive is available to everyone. The cases, specially elected by leading academics, cover the full range of legal subjects. It is the Council’s intention to expand this selection by adding new cases each year. The archive is available here. The council has teamed up with Justis to run the archive using their award-winning search engine and interface JustCite.

  • The Legal System of Scotland (4th edition) has been produced by The Stationery Office in Scotland. The book provides a comprehensive guide to the Scottish legal system written in plain English for non-lawyers. It provides an overview of various aspects of the legal system such as: origins and sources of Scots law; the civil and criminal courts; tribunals; the personnel of the law; administration of the Scottish legal system; legal aid and other topics.

    Scottish Legal Resources Generally

  • The Scottish Courts and Tribunals provides information relating to all civil and criminal courts within Scotland, including the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Sheriff Courts and a number of other courts, commissions and tribunals as well the District Courts. The information includes location details, contact numbers, advice and details of recent significant opinions. Court of Session opinions from September 1998, including opinions in commercial cases from January 1998, are available. Criminal opinions of the High Court of Justiciary, including opinions in some sentence appeals, are available. These pages will be updated at approximately 2.00 pm on any day on which new opinions are to be published.

  • The Law Society of Scotland is the governing body for Scottish solicitors. It was established by the Legal Aid & Solicitors (Scotland) Act in 1949. The main aims of the Society are set out in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980. In essence, the Society promotes the interests of solicitors in Scotland and provides services to the public in this field. All practising solicitors in Scotland must be members of the Society and must hold a current Practising Certificate which is issued by the Society. The site used to provide general information on Scots Law and a History and Structure of the Courts but this seems to have disappeared now. There is a directory of all Scottish Lawyers which can be used to find lawyers in, say, Aberdeen, as well as to find particular individuals or firms. The list can be used to find accredited experts (solicitors) in specific fields of law such as IP & employment.

  • The Scottish Council of Law Reporting is a 'not for profit' charitable company limited by guarantee, established by the Scottish legal profession in 1957 to manage publication of Session Cases and other materials. The new site offers a set of links for major legal resources, organised by subject area, particularly (but not limited to) Scottish ones, edited by Derek OCarroll, Advocate. There are also some particularly interesting Session Cases from the archives that have shaped the development of the common law around the world. The Scottish Council of Law Reporting has licensed its Session Cases reports and its archive of law reports back to 1930 to a number of online publishers.

  • The Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish Bar) is a body of independent lawyers who have been admitted to practise as Advocates before the Courts of Scotland. Faculty records date as far back as 1532 when the College of Justice was established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, though its origins are believed to predate that event. The Advocates Library is widely regarded as the finest working law library in the British Isles with a comprehensive range of materials built up over the last three hundred years. The site provides
  • History and composition of the Faculty of Advocates
  • Up-to-date "stable" listings and contact details for Advocates Clerks and deputies
  • Information to assist practitioners involved in, or considering, Direct Professional Access.

  • The Society of Writers to Her Majestys Signet (the WS Society) is apparently the oldest legal society in the world. It is a private society of Scottish solicitors designed to represent them but also to educate them and ensure the highest standards of professional competence. It is open to all Scottish solicitors who have practised for 3 years and there are at present around 675 full members. The site includes information on the history and aims of the society and also news of meetings, legal developments, courses put on by the Society and information about the Library (the Society is based at the Signet Library in Edinburgh). You can book the historic rooms too.

  • Scottish Law Online is a web portal designed by Scottish Lawyer Kevin Crombie. The site includes links to relevant courts, legislation, organisations, governments, professional bodies, societies, universities, journals and publishers. There is also an "A to Z" with links to over 50 areas of Scottish law - arbitration to workplace health and safety. Other areas of law include contract, delict, employment, corporate, family, divorce, computer, conveyancing, international, immigration and consumer law. The site also contains a good list of Scottish firms on the web.

  • absolvitor is a Scottish portal providing a comprehensive directory of Scottish solicitors by location and by specialism as well as links to key Scottish legal sites. There is a feed of legal stories from the Scotsman and a good set of links for legal resources generally. There is a good student section which includes descriptions of the Scottish Law Schools. The author is Iain Nisbet who is an Associate Solicitor at Govan Law Centre.

  • Minitrial is an initiative from Scottish Lawyers to help secondary schools find out more about the Scottish legal system. Students take part in a reconstruction of a ciminal jury trial. The site shows an interactive court scene and describes the participants, then shows some of the "papers" for the assault trial. There are various materials for further work which can be downloaded. The site does not try to be too clever but is straightforward and informative.

  • The Paisley Snail - Wellmeadow Cafe is an internet meeting place for all those interested in Scots law, citizenship and education - with ginger beer and snails. (This is a reference to the famous Paisley Snail case - see the blog for details!). There is a major effort going on at the moment to get schools (including primary schools) involved in the processes of law in Scotland. There is also a very good selection of Scottish Law links on the site.

  • The Scottish Council of Law Reporting (SCLR) makes available on its site a collection of digital resources concerning the celebrated case of Donoghue v Stevenson - the case of the snail in the ginger beer bottle, from 1932. Now there is a new section of the site “The Paisley Snail MiniTrial” with featured articles and images of the original court documents which can be used by students in schools and colleges to run their own civil jury trials and to return their own verdict in the case based on current Scottish procedure. The format is based on the successful “criminal” trials from Minitrial, which is an educational initiative by Scottish lawyers, as above. Teachers can download starter packs of materials for use in class.

  • Jonathan Mitchell QC from the Murray Stable, provides information on the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Bar so that non-Scottish Lawyers can understand more what is on offer. There is a major section on jursidiction issues within the expanded European Union and information on the Scottish legal System, the way the Scottish Parliament operates, housing law and public law. Other pages give substantive information on Scottish law with guides to judicial review, eviction, data protection, immigration appeals, freedom of information, and legal aid and a synopsis of new Court of Session decisions updated weekly.

  • The Law Society of Scotland Directory of Expert Witnesses. This comprehensive source of expert witnesses in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland is published jointly between The Law Society of Scotland and W. Green. All Expert Witnesses on this site have provided two professional references from practising solicitors or advocates who have instructed them within the last three years.

  • The Society of Solicitor Advocates, in Scotland, provides information on what it means to be a Solicitor Advocate, a searchable directory of those holding the additional rights and a criminal solicitor advocates booking system. There is also a regularly updated news section.

  • Scottish Legal Aid Board provides useful information and is well laid out. It says "In 1998/99 we paid out just over 138 million to solicitors and advocates for legal aid work. We collected 9m in contributions, expenses and amounts recovered from assisted persons following the successful outcome of their cases, so the net cost to the taxpayer was 129 million. We are the largest purchaser of legal services within the Scottish justice system, and in 1998/99 we dealt with over 399,000 applications for advice and assistance, civil and criminal legal aid and paid accounts for about 366,000 cases. Situated in Edinburgh, we employ about 270 full-time staff. Twelve Board members, appointed by Scottish Ministers, oversee the work."

  • Citizens Advice Scotland provides extensive and detailed information on Benefits, Civil Rights, Communications, Consumer Affairs, Education, Employment, Family Matters, Health, Housing, Immigration, Legal System, Tax, and Travel. The viewer can also search the site for particular topics or keywords. You can find a local office by naming the town or area.

  • http://www.childreninscotland.org.uk covers the Educational System in Scotland generally and problems of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in particular, from the parents' and childrens' point of view.

  • The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service provides Scotland's independent public prosecution and deaths investigation service. It is a Department of the Scottish Executive and is headed by the Lord Advocate, whose position as the head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland is protected by the Scotland Act.

  • Scottish Legal Action Group (SCOLAG) promotes equal access to justice in Scotland. The Group seeks to improve and advance Scots law for the benefit of those members of society who are economically, socially, or otherwise disadvantaged. There is a journal available and a good set of Scottish links relating to these topics.

  • Legal Services Agency is a Scottish charity offering legal assistance to the disadvantaged as well as courses and training in legal subject areas. Housing and social welfare law are especially covered both in the courses and in the advice and all initial advice is free. The Agency is funded by local authorities and the Scottish Office.

  • Govan Law Centre (Glasgow) provides Scots law 'basic advice' pages on consumer affairs, housing, neighbour nuisance, school exclusions, and other topics; a legal resources section including caselaw on small claims, developments on the law of debt (from a debtor's perspective), basic guide for organisation looking for charitable status etc., and information on free or low cost legal events.

  • Education Law Unit of Govan Law Centre has an extensive site covering educational issues. The unit, partly funded by Glasgow city Council, describes itself as "the national expert legal resource for anyone who advises either children with special educational needs or their parents. Working in partnership with the voluntary, statutory and independent sectors, we seek to increase the quality and availability of training, information and advice available to such advisers and to support and assist them in making the rights of children with special educational needs a reality." See also:
    Additional Support Needs with a particular focus on the rights of disabled pupils and pupils with additional support needs

  • Scottish Prisons Service provides information on the prisons aimed largely at the general public and including useful information like the visiting arrangements for each prison.

    Commercial Services for Lawyers and Jobs sites

  • Capture All is one of the UK’s leading providers of document scanning, document storing and archiving. They offer a comprehensive range of digitisation services, including document scanning, drawing scanning and book scanning. Alongside their digitisation services they offer secure document storage and a scan-on-demand service. They have a number of awards and accreditations, including ISO 9001 – 2008. Based in central Scotland they have developed particular relationships with Scottish companies and law firms (including Biggart Baillie) but they offer a specialist uplift and delivery service throughout the UK.

  • G2legal is a high-tech legal recruitment firm with offices in many locations including Edinburgh and Glasgow. Clients range from Magic Circle and US law firms to major regional firms and high street practices. They have also placed a significant number of lawyers from abroad into UK Law firms. There are typically around 30 legal jobs on the site.

  • Scotjobsnet is an independent Glasgow based Scottish job board which offers the job seeker a comprehensive list of Scottish jobs (including legal jobs) within both the public and private job sectors. It provides Scottish recruiters and employers competitive advertising solutions and job posting packages for attracting candidates throughout Scotland. There are articles covering jobs in major Scottish cities and regions and articles on looking for a job and career development. The site was launched in 2007.

  • Oswalds (now part of Jordans) is the leading provider of corporate professional services in Scotland. The services include company formations and company secretarial services and software, company information, conveyancing support and environmental search services. The company has recently become part of Jordans.

  • Target Jobs have sections under "Law" for solicitors, barristers, general and Scotland. The company is used by many major employers with (for example) over 70 firms advertising on the site and over 40 chambers. There is careers advice on the site as well as access to the current jobs.

    Scottish Academic Sites

  • There are many Scottish Universities and Law Schools but I am here taking one example, the University of Edinburgh. The Law School provides information about its own courses, research and events and also acts as a host to a number of other interesting centres including The Centre for Law and Society at www.law.ed.ac.uk/cls - "an interdisciplinary research centre in the School of Law. It holds a distinctive place in the development of legal studies in the UK and internationally as a long-standing forum for exchange between scholars in philosophy of law, sociological and anthropological approaches to law, criminology and penology."

    Property Related Sites

  • Registers of Scotland (the Land Register) The Land Register of Scotland and the Register of Sasines contain title information on all properties in Scotland. The information includes ownership details, a description of the property (either verbal or by reference to a plan), the price paid and any outstanding securities (mortgages) which affect the property. It sets the scene as follows: "In Scotland, registers have been kept for centuries. Volume 1 of the Acts of Parliament of Scotland contains a copy of an Inventory of 1282 of the registers and records preserved in Edinburgh Castle. These early registers consisted of state documents, royal charters and other writs."

  • The Property Standardisation Group ("PSG") grew out of discussions amongst property lawyers at four Scottish law firms who were concerned that too much time was being spent in property transactions in negotiating forms of documentation and seeking to agree procedures, all of which could and should be regulated by a common standard. Documents already produced by the group include Letters of Obligation, Management Documentation for Leases, Post Feudal Reform Documentation, Certificate of Title, Due Diligence Questionnaire, Completion Checklist and Stamp Duty Land Tax.

  • Scottish Solicitors' Property Centres: a very Scottish phenonemon

  • Scottish Property Network Website with news and commentary on the Scottish commercial and industrial property market.

    News and Newspapers

  • Scottish Legal News is a leading independent legal portal serving the Scottish legal community. They publish a free daily email newsletter called Scottish Legal News, sent to thousands of Scottish lawyers working in the many diverse areas of the profession. It is fast and free. It is owned by Scottish Legal News Ltd, a joint venture between the Scottish Legal Action Group (SCOLAG) and Scottish News Agency.

    and then general newspapers...

  • The Scotsman - (you used to be able to search on "Law Report" but this facility has now been withdrawn)
  • The Herald
  • The Daily Record
  • BBC Scotland

    Blogs with a special Scottish interest

  • Wardblawg is a law blog or “blawg” from solicitor Gavin Ward showcasing and contributing to Scots and other laws from around the globe.

  • ScotsLawBlog provides the most recent news relevant to Scots lawyers and businesses both those domiciled in Scotland and those established elsewhere looking to set up or develop their business in Scotland. The blog is written by Gavin Ward, a solicitor, previously employed by a top Scottish law firm, former Citizens Advice Bureau adviser and private law tutor at the University of Glasgow. There is a facility for law firms, lawyers and law students to display their own legal knowledge and skills as "guest bloggers" - an easy way to try out blogging, with the benefit of the extensive coverage of this blog, and without the hassle. The blog also deals with academic legal topics, particularly ones related to Scotland.

    General Interest

  • Edinburgh Festivals
  • The Official Gateway to Scotland
  • Historic Scotland.

    If anyone knows of useful Scottish resources not already here, please email me:

    email delia@venables.co.uk

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