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Complaints about court and Scottish Tribunal staff

This advice applies to Scotland

Complaints about the court administration and court and Scottish Tribunal staff

If a client is unhappy about the way s/he has been treated by court or Scottish Tribunal staff or about the administration within the court or Scottish tribunal (for example, the court has lost documents that the client has submitted), s/he can make a complaint. There is a procedure for this in every sheriff court and a First Tier and Upper Tribunal.

The complaint should be made in writing. The name of the official the client should write to is shown on notices displayed in public areas of the court. The sheriff clerk at the sheriff court in question should also to be able to tell you who the client should write to.

You may need to check with the Scottish Tribunals service where such information is displayed.

The complaint should give the client's name and address and details of why s/he was at a court or Scottish Tribunal. It should detail the nature of the complaint, the date of the incident and, if possible, should give the name of the member of staff involved.

Written complaints will be investigated and the court should reply within 20 working days. You should check what the timescale for handling complaints about Scottish Tribunal staff is with the Scottish Judiciary office.

If the client is not satisfied with the reply, s/he can write to the Sheriffdom Business Manager (sheriff courts) or the Principal Clerk (supreme courts), whose name and address are also displayed on notices in the court. The name and address can also be obtained from the local sheriff clerk. The complaint is then re-examined and a reply will be given within 20 working days.

Complaints about the conduct of the sheriff or tribunal member

When a client wants to complain about a sheriff or tribunal member s/he cannot make a complaint about the decision that has been made but can complain about the conduct of the sheriff or tribunal member. If the client is unhappy with the decision made in the court or Scottish Tribunal, s/he will have to appeal.

If the client has a complaint about the conduct of a sheriff, either inside or outside the court, s/he can write to or email the Judicial Office for Scotland. Complaints should be addressed to The Executive Director at:

Judicial Office for Scotland
Parliament House


Complaints should be made no later than three months after the incident the client wishes to complain about. This time limit can be extended only in exceptional circumstances. Even if your case or appeal is on-going, you must still submit your complaint within the three month period.

Complaints should be made in writing, and either submitted by post, by email or by using the online complaints form. The online complaints form can be found on the Judicial Office for Scotland's website at Complaints should include:

  • name and address. If the client gives a postal and an email address, s/he should say whether s/he prefers to be contacted by post or email
  • name of the judicial officer, or enough information to enable her/him to be identified
  • the date or dates of the alleged misconduct that the client is complaining about
  • specific details about the grounds of the complaint
  • where appropriate, the court and the relevant case number (if known).

The person making the complaint must include copies of all the documents s/he is relying on to support the complaint.

There is guidance on making complaints about judicial conduct on the Judiciary of Scotland website at .

Complaints about solicitors and advocates

If the client is dissatisfied with the way her/his solicitor is dealing with her/his case, s/he should complain to the firm the solicitor works for in the first instance. If the problem is not resolved at this stage s/he can complain to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

If the client is dissatisfied with the way her/his advocate is dealing with the case, s/he can complain to the Faculty of Advocates.


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