History has much to do with the roots of law. The word is Greek and means “law”. The idea of law can be traced as far back as ancient history. It was the kings and other high authorities who defined and wrote laws. Throughout history, many civilisations have adopted a variety of legal systems dependent on the local environment.
In modern parlance, the law refers to the codes that regulate behaviour by governments at both national and local levels. A lawyer is a person trained to practice law and is commonly referred to as a barrister. A barrister is not just a lawyer but also a man of letters, who present arguments in court on behalf of his client. They are usually barristers, which means they must be either a knight or a sergeon. Lawyers have a lot of responsibility because they argue and discuss legal issues, make reports and interpret laws passed by the legislature.
One branch of law that is extremely important is that of Scotland devolved government. The Scottish government uses the powers granted to it under the Scotland Acts to create a system of communal justice known as the legal system. Devolved government is responsible for the running of the courts and the enforcement of justice in the country. Some of the major areas of devolved government include: tax, immigration, education, welfare, housing and the armed forces. The role of the Scottish Parliament is to give directives to the councils, which are obliged by law to carry out the decisions given by the Scottish Government.
Scotland also uses the Common law system for the determination of divorce and marriage. The courts must follow the decisions of the Scottish Parliament in deciding upon marriages, civil partnerships and divorce. The legal system is one of three bodies of law under the jurisdiction of the Scottish government. It is administered by the courts, which are called the common law courts. A number of ‘special’ courts operate in an area of specific law.
Scotland is also one of the only countries to have a directly democratic form of government. The Scottish Parliament ensures that the law and order are maintained. It controls the creation of legislation and the formulation of policy. The last four devolved governments (the Edinburgh Agreement, Scottish constitutional conference and the establishment of a constitutional settlement) transferred power to the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The reformed Holyrood parliament meets directly after each Scotland voting conference and convenes the leaders of the assemblies of assembly of counties, parishes, unions and corporations at Holyrood House.
Law is administered locally by the courts, the police, the prison services and the licensing boards. The licensing boards are responsible for the licensing of goods and provision of licenses for activities such as television and radio reception, live entertainment, cinema, printing and broadcasting. They also regulate dog breeding and micro-enterprise. The courts and the prison services ensure compliance with the Constitution and are responsible for the enforcement of judgments obtained under the Constitution. The Scottish government is fully responsible for the administration of justice in Scotland and all powers conferred upon the Scottish Parliament are ultimately reprogated to the Scottish people through the Scottish law courts.
There is also the involvement of the Holy See in providing support for the administration of justice in Scotland through its mission with the Education and Research Council. The Holy See is represented by the Privy Counsel, a member of the Holy hierarchy who is responsible for serving the spiritual needs of the people of the Holy See. The Pope and his Vicar on the Vatican City State are Scotland’s major overseas dependencies. There are no fewer than forty archbishops, bishops, abbots, priests and other senior clergy in the Holy See. The Holy See provides vast numbers of students with professional qualifications in law and the administration of justice in Scotland.
The fourth element of the Scottish legal system is the royal courts. The regencies were replaced by the supreme courts in England and Wales. The role of the sovereign is still important in the administration of justice in Scotland. The right to administer justice is retained through the Scottish heraldic office. A number of senior judges are appointed by the queen.