An Introduction to Scottish Legal Culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


"It seems to me that in truth Scots law has long been built by the working-out of doctrine in our case-law and that this is what gives strength to any statements of principle which may from time to time emerge ... Scots law still remains that curious mixture of native, Roman and English elements. On the whole, if they thought about the matter at all, our predecessors do not appear to have worried too much about which element of the Scottish mixture they called into service at any particular moment, bur rather let the law develop as seemed best suited to the demands and fashions of the times. We could do worse than follow their rather pragmatic example. If we do, then Scots law may never be perfectly coherent as a system, but it will respond to the needs of the times [and] enjoy the confidence of people in Scotland ... "2

The late Lord Rodger was well aware that some elements of these views were con­troversial when he published them in 1996. That remains the case twenty years later, and it must be emphasised at the outset of this study of Scottish legal culture that not all academic writers would endorse his arguments. Nonetheless, his com­ments are representative of a vision of that culture which remains powerful today. More relevant here is that they serve to introduce many salient features of modern Scots law. The statement that Scots law has "long been built" through case-law underlines the point that any attempt to discuss conflict resolution and norm pro­duction within Scottish legal culture must focus on the decisions of three courts in particular. The first two are the Court of Session, which deals with civil matters, and the High Court ofJusticiary, which deals with criminal matters. The third, the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC), enjoys appellate jurisdiction in relation to the first two, albeit only in very limited circumstances in the case of the High Court ofJusticiary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComparing Legal Cultures
EditorsSøren Koch, Knut Skodvin, Jørn Sunde
Place of PublicationBergen
Number of pages44
ISBN (Print)8245020818, 9788245020816
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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