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Scottish Bar

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The Faculty of Advocates is the independent professional body governing advocates in Scotland. It houses over 400 members who are each affiliated with one of nine stables, as well as some members who have no stable affiliation. The Faculty acts as a regulatory body for the advocates and provides a framework for the stables to coexist.

Glasgow-based Mackinnon Stable and Black Chambers centre their practice in mainstream criminal law; however the stables also handle matters such as fatal accident inquiries and health and safety prosecutions using criminal law as a touchstone. Other stables have more general areas of practice and cover a wide range of legal disciplines, yet the stables often have one or more key areas of specialisation. Marketing and self-promotion also tends to be handled internally.

A key development for the Scottish Bar happened in 2015, when the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force and the Scottish civil justice system underwent major changes. Reforms brought about by the Act include the establishment of an Edinburgh-based Sheriff Court to deal with personal injury cases, a new Sheriff Appeal Court, and – most significantly – a provision for the sheriff courts to have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with actions with a value of up to £100,000. As a result, there has been an increase in Sheriff Court actions alongside a corresponding decrease in Court of Session cases. Additionally, the Act established a new judicial post of summary sheriff. Summary sheriffs handle some civil (predominantly family matters) and criminal cases in the sheriff court, while sheriffs handle more serious and complex civil and criminal cases.

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