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Scotland: legal resources: Cases

Subjects: Law

Finding Scottish cases and law reports

Case law is the second most important source of law (after legislation) in Scotland. The technicalities of precedent (identifying stare decisis, hierarchy of courts etc) will feel familiar to students of English law.

Printed sources

The Law Bod has a good collection of Scottish law reports, both historic and current, on Floor 2 with shelfmarks starting Cw UK Scotl 100

The series called Sessions Cases, which runs from 1821onwards, publishes the reports of highest authority. (Earlier periods of SC you will sometimes find cited just by the intitial of the surname of their editor.)

Holdings include:

D Dunlop's Session Cases 1838 to 1861 Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
FamLR [Green's] Family Law Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 G50
F Fraser's Session Cases 1898 to 1905 Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
HousLR [Green's] Housing Law Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 G55
JC Justiciary Cases Cw UK Scotl 100 J50-51
M Macpherson's Session Cases Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
RepLR [Green's] Reparation Law Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 G60
R Rettie's Session Cases 1873 to 1897 Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
S Shaw's Session Cases 1821 to 1837 Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
SC Session Cases Cw UK Scotl 100 S50
SCCR Scottish Criminal Case Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 S26
SCLR Scottish Civil Law Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 S27
SLCR Scottish Land Court Reports Cw UK Scotl 100 S30
SLR Scottish Law Reporter Cw UK Scotl 100 S40
SLT Scots Law Times Cw UK Scotl 300 S20

The above list is not exhaustive!

GWD Green's Weekly Digest Cw UK Scotl 150 G798


Scottish Citation practice

In principle familiar for those used to English ways, in practice it does throw up differences.

Session Cases SC report series are those of highest authority.
Thus a leading House of Lords decision Donoghue v Stevenson in Scotland is cited as 1932 SC (HL) 31; while in England it is [1932] AC 562

Since their introduction in 2006, higher court cases will have a neutral citation following the party names.

Neutral Citations (case identifiers) of Scottish courts

Court of Session Inner House CSIH

Court of Session Outer House CSOH

High Court Judiciary Appeal Court HCJAC

The Supreme Court of UK  UKSC may hear (just as the UKHL heard) appeals in matters of Scottish civil law

The Scottish practice does not use the ( )[ ] distinction in citing cases in law reports.

Most modern Scottish law report volumes are distinguished by year - in which case no brackets are used eg 1981 SLT 161

Where the individual volumes of a report series are distinguished by volume numbers, the date can be inserted in ( ) before the volume number eg Moore v Gledden (1869) 7 M 1296

An indication of the court which heard the case can be included in the citation before the start page eg 1980 SLT (Sh Ct) 56. Mostly as with this Sheriff Court abbreviation not hard to work out.