Glossary of Scottish Legal Terms


The judgement pronounced when a court assoilzies a party.

ab intestato
from a person dying intestate; description of property acquired according to the rules of intestate succession.

an abstract of a writ and warrant recorded in an official register in bankruptcy proceedings to give public notice thereof.

absolutely insolvent
the state of a debtor whose liabilities are greater than his assets.


  • the natural or industrial addition to existing property (e.g. by reproduction or building);
  • an arrangement set out in a deed approved by the creditors of an insolvent person as an alternative to sequestration.

Accountant in Bankruptcy
The administrative supervisor of sequestrations and personal insolvency.

Accountant of Court
An officer of court who supervises the conduct of judicial factors.

assets acquired by a bankrupt after the effective date of his sequestration.

act and warrant – in sequestration

a judicial order confirming the appointment of a permanent trustee in terms of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985.

Act and warrant
The interlocutor in sequestration proceedings which confirms the appointment of the trustee

Proceedings instituted by a person in a civil court.

actio quanti minoris
an action in Roman law whereby the purchaser of defective goods could seek from the seller the difference between the actual value of the goods and the value they should have had under the contract. This was formally brought into Scots law by the Contract (Scotland) Act 1997.

Acts of Sederunt
Acts passed by the Lords of Council and Session relating to civil procedure.

ad factum praestandum
for the performance of an act. A court order which requires the performance or fulfilment of some physical rather than financial obligation, for example to restore a damaged wall.

Ad hoc
Referring only to a particular case or to a specified set of circumstances.

Ad infinitum
Without limit.

ad interim
in the meantime; a temporary order.


  • (generally) the decision of a judge or arbiter;
  • the means by which the Court of Session vests a title to land in a claimant or hands over the heritable property of a debtor in security or in satisfaction of a debt to a creditor;
  • a decision by the Inland Revenue Commissioners on stamp duties.

to alter the written pleadings in a case during an initial authorised period. This does not need the court’s permission and the parties exchange such adjustments without lodging them in court – the court sees them when adjustment is closed, when the final version is then lodged. See amend.

Ad litem
For the purposes of this action only.

Ad longum
At length

Administration Order
A court order appointing an administrator for a company in financial difficulties but not hopelessly insolvent.

The statutory process whereby the parental rights and duties of natural parents are extinguished and vested in adopters.

ad valorem
according to value, for example stamp duty fixed as a percentage of a house price.


  • a member of the Scottish Bar, the equivalent of the English ‘barrister’;
  • a solicitor who is a member of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen;
  • (verb) to submit the judgement of an inferior court to review by a superior court. In modern practice this procedure is rare and is restricted to criminal jurisdiction.

Advocate General
A UK Government Minister and the UK Government’s chief legal adviser on Scots law.

Advocate, Lord
The senior Scottish Law Officer responsible for the prosecution of crime and investigation of deaths in Scotland, and the principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government

A signed statement made on oath. Some cases which come before the Court can be dealt with by affidavit evidence. This is basically a sworn statement which the Court has regard to and means witnesses don’t have to turn up. It saves a good deal of time but can only be used in certain types of case (where there is no real dispute) as a written statement cannot be cross examined.

(verb) as a witness, to make a solemn declaration to tell the truth, where the maker prefers, for religious or other reasons, not to take the oath.

a person related to another on the father’s side; the opposite of cognate (related on the mother’s side).

Support or maintenance of a spouse or child enforceable by law.

Allocated to a Roll
Assigned to a particular court and Judge / Sheriff

to alter the written pleadings in an action, only with permission of the court, after the adjustment period is closed, or to alter names and addresses of the parties or what the court is being asked to grant at any time. The court may impose conditions for the right to amend, for example paying a sum in costs to the other side for inconvenience. See adjust

a mensa et thoro
from bed and board: used to describe the judicial separation of husband and wife.

a morte testatoris
from the death of the testator: describes a bequest payable immediately to the beneficiary as opposed to one postponed to a later date, for example until the beneficiary reaches a stated age.

Will or intention

a right to a yearly payment of money.

ante litem motam
before a court action is raised.

apparent insolvency
the legal formalities which must be established under the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 prior to sequestration proceedings by creditors.

The formal act whereby the defender in an action intimates his intention to defend.

a person appealing to a higher court from the decision of a lower court (e.g. in a criminal case from the sheriff court or district court to the High Court of Justiciary, or in a civil case from the Court of Session to the House of Lords).

a person appointed to adjudicate in a dispute outside the courts. On a question of fact, his decision is final; on a question of law, unless otherwise agreed, he may (on the application of either party) and must (if the Court of Session so directs) state a case for the court’s opinion on any

the taking or freezing of the property of a debtor which is in the hands of a third party, done to obtain security for a creditor.

Articles of Roup
Conditions of sale by auction.

a relative from a previous generation, for example a parent or great-uncle.

the application of payments to debts in a prescribed order. Thus a sum paid by a debtor would be set against interest due before reducing the original debt.

The transfer of a right from one party to another.

Criminal to acquit or find not guilty. Civil to find for the defender/respondent.

witnessing of a document.

a person acting on behalf of another with his written authority (called a power of attorney).

auctor in rem suam
one who acts in his own interest. Trustees and agents, for example, must not promote their own interests when handling others’ affairs.

Auditor of Court
A person responsible for examining legal accounts.  The Auditors of the Court of Session and Sheriff Courts respectively examine and are said to “tax” accounts of expenses incurred by parties in civil actions in the respective courts.

To state or allege.

Judgement deferred (verbal or written decision to be given later).

bairns’ part
the part of the moveable assets (cash, insurance policies, etc.) of a deceased person to which his children have a legal right despite the terms of any will. See legitim.

a person who will benefit from the terms of a deed such as a will.

blood relationship
the relationship between two people who have either one common parent (relationship of the half blood) or two common parents (relationship of the whole blood), as distinguished from relationship by marriage, where no parent is shared.

bona fide(s)
(in) good faith.

Bond and Disposition in Security
Mortgage secured over heritable property.

Bond of Caution
Where the Court appoints someone to act on behalf of another (judicial factors etc.) it may require that they find caution in a specified amount. This may be done by depositing cash, or by arranging a bond with an insurance company. It ensures that compensation is available in the event that the judicial factor etc acts improperly. Note ‘
Caution’ is pronounced to rhyme with station.

Books of Council and Session
A popular title for the Registers of Deeds and Probative Writs in which, according to the directions they contain, deeds, etc., may be registered for preservation or
preservation and execution.

Books of Sederunt
Records of the Acts of Sederunt in the Court of Session.

brevitatis causa
for the sake of brevity: a phrase incorporating by reference the terms of some other document, usually into writing.

a legal maxim derived from Roman law or ancient custom and regarded as part of the common law.

casus omissus
a situation omitted, that should have been provided for within the existing law, especially in statute.

Security (pronounced ‘Kayshun’)

A formal notice to a court requesting that warning be given to a party of the lodging of any case which seeks interim orders (e.g. interdict) against him and that such orders should not be granted until he has been able to appear before the court to oppose them.

Circuit Court
The court held by the judges of the High Court of Justiciary when they sit outside Edinburgh.

Cite / Citation

  • To summon to court a party, witness or juror.
  • To refer in argument to some authority such as a statute or decided case.

closed record
the final written pleadings of the parties to a civil action.

an addition to or alteration of a will without re-writing it entirely.

a person related on the mother’s side; the opposite of agnate (related on the father’s side).

Cognitionis causa tantum
An action raised by creditor of a deceased debtor for purpose of constituting his or her debt against the estate.

collateral security
an additional security reinforcing the primary security for the performance of an obligation.

College of Justice
A formal name of the Court of Session. The College of Justice includes advocates, solicitors, court staff and others, as well as the judges.

Relating to establishing the succession rights and disposal of a deceased persons estate.

Commissary Court
The Court which grants a title to Executors or Administrators.

common debtor
a debtor in respect of whom several creditors claim a share of arrested goods or money.

common interest
an interest other than ownership which justifies a party exercising some control in the use of the property, for example a mutual wall between two houses.

common law
law which does not derive from Acts of Parliament, etc. It includes law as laid down in judicial decisions and academic opinions.

The appearance of a Defender.

an arrangement between a debtor and his creditors whereby debts are discharged in exchange for only an agreed partial payment.

The conclusion in a Court of Session summons is the statement of the precise order sought. To conclude for is to claim in this fashion.

A written statement in an action setting out the grounds of action of the Pursuer.


  • the authority of the court to an executor of a deceased person’s estate to begin gathering in and administering the assets;
  • the document evidencing this authority.

Confirmation nominate
The title of the Executor of a deceased’s estate where there the deceased has left a will

Confirmation dative
The title of the Executor of a deceased’s estate where there the deceased has not left a will.

conjoined arrestment order
an order against the earnings of a debtor to enforce the payment to different creditors. Each creditor gets a share but the total deducted from the earnings each week or month is the same.

consensus in idem
agreement as to those matters in a contract which are essential to make the contract binding, for example there is no consensus if one party believes he is hiring from another but the other believes he is selling to the first party.

The deposit in court or with a third party under court authority of money or an article in dispute.

Relating to family matters, including actions between husband and wife / civil partners, or parent and child which involve status.

contributory negligence
Since 1945 the court may reduce an award of damages in proportion to the claimant’s share of responsibility for what happened.

In Scotland a member of the Faculty of Advocates practising at the Bar.

a claim by a defender in a case against the pursuer even though he could have sued for it separately if he wished.

The estate which the husband has for life in the real estate left by his wife.

A person to whom another person (or debtor) is obliged in some monetary or other obligation.

A person either entitled by law or appointed by the court or an individual to administer the estate of another, as of a young or insane person. Commonly mispronounced curator.

Curator ad litem
A person appointed by the court to look after the interests of a party to proceedings who is under legal disability but has no guardian.

Curator bonis
The person appointed by the court to manage the estate of a young person in place of his legal guardian or to manage the estate of an adult suffering from mental or, less commonly, bodily infirmity.

Curatory / Judicial Factor
Where people are too young, or infirm, to look after their own (financial) affairs they have someone appointed to do so (a curator or judicial factor). These appointments are made by the Court and those appointed have to account for their intermission on the
estate of the ‘incapax’

Custody Order
now known as a “Residence Order”

Cy Pres
Approximation; as near as possible.

a sum of money claimed as compensation for loss or injury through negligence or breach
of contract.

Intermediate step in procedure when legal points are considered, and which can result in the conclusion of a civil case prior to evidence being led.

A person obliged to pay some monetary or other obligation to another (the creditor).

A formal verb meaning to give final decree or judgement.

The common term for a final judgement. (The word as is accented on the first syllable). Thus decree arbitral, the decision of an arbiter; decree conform, a decree given by the Court of Session in aid of a lower court to enable diligence to be done.

Decrees in Absence
Applications to the court dealt with by the Sheriff in his chambers in the “absence” of opposition thereto,

De facto
According to the fact; in point of fact.

The statement by way of defence lodged by the defender, being the party against whom a civil action is brought. The plural signifies, presumably, that the defender may rely on more legal answers than one.

A person who disputes the claim of the pursuer and lodges defences.

De fideli administratione
Of faithful administration (This phrase is used to describe an oath perhaps to a translator for a witness).

De jure
According to law, or in point of law.

Negligent acts causing loss; the English term is tort.

De novo
Of new

De plano
Immediately, summarily, without attention to forms.

The date fixed by the court for hearing a case for any one of a variety of purposes.

Procedure for enforcing decree against debtors;Process for procuring the recovery of writings from an opponent or third party; or Process for obtaining the evidence of witnesses before a commissioner.


To grant transfer, applied usually to heritage.

a formal deed transferring land.

Docket or docquet
An authenticating endorsement on a deed or other document, for example by a clerk of court, to certify a true copy.

the place where a person is considered by law to have his permanent home.

Dominus litis
The master of the litigation: usually refers to a party controlling a court case which has been raised in the name of someone else.

Eik (pronounced “eek”)
Additional inventory of property not included in the original inventory of a deceased estate.

Evidence Led
When a trial (either summary or solemn) calls in Court
it will either –

  • proceed (evidence will be led by the Crown and the Defence);
  • Evidence will be partly led and the trial continued to another date;
  • The trial may be adjourned to another date for some reason (with no evidence led); or
  • it may be disposed of either the Crown no longer proceeds, or a plea to the charge is accepted.

a legal representative of a deceased person whose duty is to administer the deceased’s estate and implement the terms of any will.

Executor dative
Executor appointed by the Court.

Executor nominate
Executor named in a Will.


  • the carrying out or enforcement of an order or decree of court;
  • certificate by a court officer that the court’s order has been carried out;
  • the act of authenticating a deed by signing it in accordance with the appropriate formalities.

the process of winding up the estate of a deceased person in accordance with a will or with the law of intestate succession.

ex facie
on the face of it. Something ex facie valid is presumed to be so unless contradicted by evidence.

ex gratia
out of goodwill; an ex gratia payment may be made to settle a claim without any admission of liability.

ex lege
according to law. Interest on money lent may be due to the creditor ex lege even if there was no specific agreement between the parties as to interest.

Ex officio
As holder of a particular office or appointment.

To discharge of liability. Thus a judicial factor may seek exoneration and discharge at the hands of the court.

Ex parte
Proceedings are ex parte when the party against whom they are brought is not heard, e.g. in interdict proceedings an interim interdict may be granted ex parte.

Expede Confirmation
To lodge the necessary documents in court and to obtain a Grant of Confirmation in favour of an Executor

Ex post facto
From something done afterwards.

Ex proprio motu
On the court’s or judge’s own initiative.

Ex tempore
At the time. e.g. an ex tempore judgement given there and then.

A written instrument signed by the officer of court, containing a statement of a decree and if necessary, a warrant to charge the debtor and to execute all competent diligence against person or property.

Extract Decree / Copy Interlocutor
Each step of an Ordinary Action (one other than a summary cause or small claim) is recorded in an interlocutor. It is a short summary of what has happened to the case each time it comes before the Sheriff. A copy of the interlocutor is enough in some instances to carry out the order of the Court (what the Sheriff had decided). An extract decree is required where a copy interlocutor would not do and a more formal document is required.

The word today occurs perhaps most often in the expression extrajudicial expenses, meaning expenses incurred outwith the normal course of judicial proceedings and as such not normally recoverable by a successful party from his opponent.

Feu duty
Perpetual ground rent.

The person entitled to the fee of say Land or Securities which may be liferented by another.

Fiat ut petitur
Let it be done as prayed for.


  • (n.) a person who holds something in trust (in contrast to a beneficiary), and who must not use his position to derive an unauthorised profit or advantage for himself;
  • (n.) property held in trust;
  • (adj.) of the nature of a trust; held or given in trust.

force majeure
something beyond the control of ordinary parties to a contract, preventing its performance, for example a change in government regulations.

Forum non conveniens
As applied to a court which although having jurisdiction is not the appropriate court for the matter in issue.

Fund in medio
The property or money in the hands of the holder of the fund in an action of multiplepoinding.

General Register of Sasines
a public register, maintained since 1672, in which all deeds relating to land must be recorded. The register is gradually being superseded by the Land Register of Scotland but both have the same basic function.

without payment or other consideration, as opposed to onerous.

gratuitous alienation
a transfer of property for no, or an inadequate, price, usually to the prejudice of someone’s creditors.

admissible; valid; competent for a legal purpose.

Heirs in mobilibus
Nearest heirs including representatives of predeceasers entitled to succeed to moveable estate as opposed to heritage.

Heritable Estate/Property
The term for property in the form of land and houses.

Holograph Writ
A deed or writing handwritten entirely by the grantor.  Where printed or otherwise mechanically produced or written by another the grantor may “adopt as Holograph” which has the same effect as if wholly written by the grantor. Applies only to wills made before 1 August 1995.

a form of security over the property of a debtor but where the property is still in use by the debtor. This differs from pledge (as with a pawnbroker) where the goods are held and only given back if the debt is repaid. Thus a landlord has a hypothec for rent over his tenant’s goods in the rented property.

in absentia
in absence; undefended.

in camera
proceedings heard in private, as distinct from in open court.

in causa
in the case.

(adj.) not capable; having legal, mental or physical incapacity;
(n.) a person who is incapax.

in flagrante delicto or in flagrante crimine
in the very act of committing a wrong or crime.

In foro
As applied to a decree of the court signifies that it has been granted against a party for whom defences or answers have been lodged, as opposed to decree in absence.

an order by the Court of Session, forbidding a debtor to sell or borrow money on security of his land, to the prejudice of a creditor.

In hoc statu
For the time being, at this stage.

Initial Writ
The document by which ordinary civil proceedings in the sheriff court are normally initiated the corresponding document in the Court of Session being the summons.

In litem
In the case or action.

in loco parentis
in the place of a parent.

in meditatione fugae
about to flee; usually describes a debtor: the term is used to justify a court order to freeze his assets.

Inner House
The two appellate divisions of the Court of Session, so-called originally on the simple topographical ground that their courts lay further from the entrance to the courthouse than did the Outer House.

In perpetuum

in solidum
for the whole. Joint debtors bound in solidum are each liable to the creditor for full payment or performance, and the creditor may choose which debtor to sue.

The state of being unable to pay one’s debts.

Insolvency practitioner
A person, usually an accountant or solicitor, qualified in terms of the Insolvency Act 1986 to act as liquidator or supervisor in relation to a company or as trustee or supervisor in relation to an individual.

The part of a summons or writ in which the parties to the action are identified.

an order or judgement pronounced by the court in the course of a civil action. The final interlocutor is the decree.

Interlocutor (final)
Final decision of the action.

Inter alia
Among other things.

The judicial prohibition issued by the Court of Session or Sheriff Court comparable with the English injunction.  In an emergency, interim interdict can be obtained exparte. A court order sought to prevent a particular action being carried out.

As applied to the ruling of a court, temporary or partial, e.g. in matters of interdict.

Written questions adjusted by the court, to be put to witnesses examined under a commission.

inter vivos
between living persons: describes deeds or legal acts intended to take effect during the granter’s lifetime. Compare mortis causa.


  • (n.) a person who dies without having left a valid will;
  • (adj.) describes such a person or his estate.

in toto
wholly; entirely.

Inventory of Deceased’s Estate
List of deceased estate.

Inventory of Process
A list of the documents in a court process

Ipso facto
By that very fact

Ipso jure
By the law itself

the date of termination or expiry of a lease.

joint and several obligation
an obligation resting upon more than one person in which each obligant is liable for performance jointly or collectively with the others but also severally or individually. The creditor in such an obligation may sue all, or alternatively any one, of his debtors.

the final determination in a litigation in which the judge sets forth his decision and, usually, his reasons for reaching it. See decree and interlocutor.

judicial factor
a person appointed by a court to hold or administer property in Scotland where it is in dispute or where there is no one who could properly control or administer it. A judicial factor must have indemnity insurance and his work is supervised by the Accountant of Court.

judicial review
procedure in the Court of Session to review grievances by persons who allege that

  • that decisions of inferior courts,public bodies,tribunals or other authorities (where no other form of appeal is provided) were outwith their powers or not in accordance with proper procedures or
  • that such parties have failed to perform their duties in a proper manner.

The Child Support Agency is an example of an organisation subject to judicial review.


  • In international law the power of the state to enact and enforce legislation.
  • In national systems the power of a court to entertain particular cases as determined by factors such as location or district or the value or type of the case.

A group of lay persons chosen to decide upon issues of fact in legal proceedings.

Jus relictae
The right of a widow / civil partner (one half or one third as the case may be) in her deceased husband’s / civil partner’s personal estate.

Jus relicti
The right of a widower / civil partner (one half or one third as the case may be) in his deceased wife’s / civil partner’s personal estate.

Justice Clerk, Lord
The second in dignity of the Scottish judges, who presides over the Second Division of the Court of Session.

Lack of Time Adjournment
This occurs when a case is down for trial or proof etc. but cannot proceed because other business takes priority on the day. Witnesses etc. inconvenienced, waiting periods affected.


  • an omission or blank space in a document;
  • a situation not covered by rules or regulations when it should have been.

The legal share (one half or one third as the case maybe) of a parent’s free moveable estate due on death to the children.

Life rent
An estate for life as opposed to the fee. Legal liferents are Terce (dower) and Courtesy.

The procedure for winding up and dissolving a corporate body such as a limited company, the person appointed to ingather assets and adjust and settle claims being called the liquidator.

Loco parentis
In place of a parent.

Matrimonial home
Any structure provided by one or both spouses / civil partners and forming a family residence.

Formerly called OfficersatArms,are officers appointed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, whose function is to execute civil and criminal process of the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary.

Missive of Sale
Agreement setting forth terms of sale.

Undue delay

Mortis causa
Deeds made in contemplation of death.

An application made in court for some subsidiary purpose during the course of an action.

Moveable Estate
Personal estate

An action to determine the rights of parties to a fund in dispute and to release the holder of the fund from any claim for repetition.

Next of Kin Survivors of a class nearest in degree including representatives or predeceasers in that class.

Nobile officium
The noble office or duty of the Court of Session; an equitable jurisdiction in virtue of which the court may,within limits, mitigate the strictness of the common law and provide a legal remedy where none exists.

Notes of Appeal /Stated Case
When someone wishes to appeal from the Sheriff Court to the High Court, they do so by either method. If they wish to appeal against sentence only (i.e. the severity) they appeal by note of appeal. If they wish to appeal against conviction and/or sentence they appeal by stated case.

Non existent or lacking legal force as applied to acts or writings which are null and void: also applies to a marriage / civil partnership affected by an inherent defect such as existence of a prior marriage / civil partnership or relationship within a prohibited degree.

In court proceedings the undertaking by a witness to give truthful evidence, the alternative for a witness having no religious belief being affirmation.

Obiter dictum
Opinion given incidentally

To obey, usually of the decree or order of a court.

A statement by a court or judge of reasons for the decision in a case.

Ordinary Action

All sheriff court civil actions which because of their value or complexity are started as this. The case is detailed in an ordinary writ.

Ordinary Civil

Civil proceedings as above (wider ranging, including divorce etc.). Monetary claim £5000 and above.

Ordinary, Lords
The judges who try cases at first instance in the Court of Session.

Outer House
The part of the Court of Session which exercises a first instance jurisdiction. Cf. Inner House. The Supreme Court is split into these two Houses. The Judges in the Outer House deal with ‘first instance’ (new work) which has not been before a ‘Court’ but may have been before a tribunal or panel. See also Inner House.

Pari passu

To share and share alike or ranking equally, e.g. in the case of claims or security rights.

Parole evidence
Oral evidence of witnesses, as contrasted with documentary evidence.

Per stirpes
By descent, i.e. through parent and not in own right. (Where per stirpes the share which would have fallen to the predeceasing parent if alive is divided equally among his children).

A document by which court proceedings are initiated like a summons but used for specific types of case.  Can have various meanings. An indictment originally calls as a petition until the Crown are in a position to indict the accused on the charges. In civil business the term also relates to certain types of applications to the court.

Petition and Complaint
The procedure in the Court of Session where the remedy sought is a punishment for failure to obtemper a decree.

A short proposition at the end of a written case showing exactly the remedy sought and why.


  • The decision of a court regarded as a source of law or authority in the decision of a later case.
  • A form of deed or writ regarded as basically satisfactory and accordingly suitable for use or adoption in legal practice.

Preliminary statement by a witness.

To take a precognition.

President, Lord
The highest civil Judge in Scotland who presides over the First Division of the Court of Session.

Proceeded to Evidence
Similar to evidence led but in a civil proof.

An article produced as evidence in court.

Pro forma
A document used as a form or style.

Pro indiviso
In an undivided state, usually in relation to property held by several persons.

In addition to its general meaning, this word has the formal sense of the determination of a case by a judge alone after hearing the facts (the evidence). Where evidence is heard on the facts before questions of law are determined, there is said to be a proof before answer.

The person suing in an action. The English equivalent is plaintiff.

An amount fixed or specified in money as in a claim for damages.

Quantum valeat
For as much as it is worth.

As if, as though.

A person appointed to enforce the rights and remedies of the holders of a floating charge over the assets of a company which is in default in relation to the claim or debt which the charge secures.

The statements of their respective claims and answers by parties to an action, lodged in court; when finally adjusted it is closed by order of the court and becomes the Closed Record; Up to then it is the open record. When used in this sense the words bears the accent on the second syllable.

Recoveries under Specification
Where documents etc. (productions) are likely to be used to prove a case, they sometimes require the Court to grant authority to receive them from a third party e.g. xrays from a hospital.

To annul or set aside by legal process.

Register of Inhibitions and Adjudications
The Register of Notices of personal diligence which affect the voluntary conveyance of real property.

Register of Sasines
The Register of Titles to land and heritable property in Scotland.

The transfer of some matter by one judge to another, but more often by a judge to a person named as, e.g. to an expert “a man of skill”, in order that the latter may
inquire and report.

A Scottish court does not overrule a plea or an objection, it repels it. The opposite is to sustain (or uphold).

To repone a defender is to restore him to his position as a litigant when decree in absence has been given against him. Also competent in, e.g. case of failure to lodge documents in appeal to Court of Session.

A person appointed to hold a public inquiry; also applied to professional persons, lawyers or others, to whom the court may remit some aspect of a case for investigation or advice; to the officers responsible for bringing cases before children’s hearings; also to those who prepare and compile the published reports of cases decided by the courts.

Residence Order
A formal order by a court in relation to whom the child of a relationship should be with.

Resident Sheriff
The Sheriff who holds the commission to sit at a particular Court, as opposed to a Sheriff sitting temporarily i.e. a part-time Sheriff arranged by the Shrieval Booking Unit.

Res ipsa loquitur
The thing done or the transaction speaks for itself.

Res judicata
A question decided by competent legal proceedings,which cannot again be raised.

The party in a civil action defending on appeal.

Reconveyance of a right to him who gave it

Revision by a higher court on appeal.

Official lists of cases as set down for hearing. Thus, in the Outer House of the Court of Session there is a motion roll; a procedure roll, of cases in which preliminary pleas are to be decided; and the summary roll of cases in the inner house which call for hearing. The single bills is also a roll of the Inner House, being that in which motions are entered for hearing.

Public auction.

A chapter heading.

See Vest.

Apart from anything already advanced or pleaded.

To render bankrupt. Strictly, it is a person’s estate which is sequestrated or set aside for the use of his creditors. To sequestrate for rent is to take the furniture, etc., on leased premises to satisfy a claim for rent. Sequestration therefore means a process of bankruptcy, except where qualified by the words “for rent”.

Service of heir
The Court process by which an heir proves and acquires a right or title to real estate of an ancestor.

A qualified person who sits in judgement. In the sheriff court (there are 49 sheriff courts) in Scotland.

The Seal of the Court of Session and a sign of its authority. It is applied to a summons as authority to serve the summons on the defender.

Sine die
No day fixed.

Sine qua non
Without whom nothing can be effectually done.


  • To stay or stop process;
  • To summon or call as a party.

Small Claim
Civil proceedings for payment, delivery, repossession, implement of obligation (monetary claim not exceeding £3000). This type of simplified action was devised to allow the layman to conduct the case without the need for employing a solicitor.

Extra damages allowed in certain cases in addition to actual loss – for injury to feelings.

An Act of Parliament.

Statutory Instrument (S.I.)
The form in which UK orders, rules and regulations or other subordinate legislation are now made superseding, since 1947, statutory rules and orders (S.R.& O.).

Scottish Statutory Instrument (S.S.I)
The form in which Scottish orders, rules and regulations or other subordinate legislation are now made superseding, since 1947, statutory rules and orders (S.R.& O.).

Civil (sheriff court) summary cause is the form of simplified procedure applicable to cases with a limit of £5,000 in the case of monetary claims.  Summary application is a comprehensive name for applications which can be disposed of in a summary manner.

Summary Cause
Civil proceedings as above (perhaps wider ranging).  Monetary claim above £3000 but not exceeding £5000.

Form of writ in the Court of Session issued in name of the sovereign, containing a royal mandate to messengers-at-arms to cite the defender to the Court.

The grantor of a feudal right.

As applied to legal expenses including solicitors’ or advocates’ fees incurred in court proceedings or otherwise means the scrutiny of the account by the Auditor of Court to exclude or amend items unjustifiably included or excessively charged.

A person or body of persons other than a court of law, having power to determine claims or disputes of some particular nature.

Trustee in Sequestration
Trustee in Bankruptcy.

Tutor or Tutrix
The guardian of an infant.

Ultimus haeres
Last heir. The crown.

Ultra vires

Vitious intromission
The meddling with the moveable estate of a deceased without probate of the Will of other Title.

Vexatious litigant
A person who takes proceedings primarily for the annoyance or embarrassment of the defender and whose activities in raising actions may be restrained by the Court of Session.

Absolute warrandice is a warranting or assuring of property against all claims whatever.

A written authority, e.g. from court, authorising certain actions such as a search of premises or an eviction of occupiers. Also used to signify a document evidencing a right of some kind, e.g. in a title to heritable property. Formal permission to the Court to cite.

Documents of title.


We Are Open - Covid-19 Update

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