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Advocates in Scotland are governed by the Faculty of Advocates, an independent professional body housing over 400 members, the majority of which have an affiliation with one of nine stables, although there are some members who have no stable affiliation. The Faculty provides a framework for the stables to coexist and acts as a regulatory body for the advocates.

Glasgow-based Mackinnon Stable and Black Chambers’ core expertise lie in mainstream criminal law, and both draw upon this key strength to act for clients in other matters such as health and safety prosecutions and fatal accident inquiries. Other stables cover a broad spectrum of legal disciplines and areas of practice, often with one or more key areas of specialisation. Marketing and self-promotion also tends to be handled on an internal level.

2015 marked a key development for the Scottish Bar: the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force and the Scottish civil justice system saw prominent changes. Such changes included a new Sheriff Appeal Court, the creation of an Edinburgh-based Sheriff Court to handle personal injury cases, and – most importantly – a provision for the sheriff courts to have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with actions with a value of up to £100,000. Consequently, sheriff court actions have been on the increase, while Court of Session cases have decreased in number. Another reform brought about by the Act was the creation of the judicial post of summary sheriff. Summary sheriffs handle some criminal and civil (predominantly family matters) cases in the sheriff court, while sheriffs handle more serious and complex cases of the same nature.

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