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Society, Politics & Law

Law in Scotland

Updated Monday, 4th April 2011

Just how does the law in Scotland differ from the law in England?

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As in England, Customary law, feudalism and Canon law were part of the early origins of the law in Scotland. Scottish scholars looked to France and the Low Countries for instruction, especially the universities of Leyden and Utrecht – a tendency fixed by the frequency of conflict with England. By the 14th Century this was a dominant influence on Scots law. The foundation of the College of Justice in 1532 gave further impetus to systematisation of the law, based on Roman law as developed by Continental scholars. In this collegiate court Trust law evolved in Scotland without any divergence between ‘equity’ and ‘law’. It was completely different to the distinction between Chancery and Common Pleas in England.

The Union of 1707 left the Scottish legal system, including the separate court system, intact. The system for the education, training and regulation of legal professionals remains quite separate from that of England.

In the late 20th Century the Scotland Act 1998 devolved extensive but not total powers to a new Scottish Parliament. This sat for the first time in 1999.

The Supreme Court in London has jurisdiction in final appeals on civil matters, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom on ‘devolution issues’ (relative to the scope of devolved authority, including human rights and European Union issues).

From the LearningSpace

What role does an agreement made in Montevideo in the 1930s have in the Scottish independence debate? Creative commons image Icon The Open University / Independence Plaze in Montevideo public domain image under Creative-Commons license




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