Overview 

The Centre for Scots Law was established by legal academics based at Aberdeen University in November 2018. The purpose of the Centre is to support the study of Scots law, past, present and future, both as an academic discipline and also as a practical, functioning reality.

Members of the Centre are interested in researching and discussing Scots law in light of a range of factors. These include, to give a non-exhaustive list of examples, its historical, national, social, comparative and international contexts. Those involved in the Centre share a sense that it is important to be more articulate about the current state and development of Scots law. This is particularly important at a time when some perceive that the distinctive identity of Scots law faces challenges from a range of factors, including internationalisation of the law. Whilst openness to such outside influences can be an enormous strength, it is equally obvious that Scottish legal academics must be articulate about the current system of Scots law, lest that openness to positive influence from outside turn into uncritical reception of ideas. There is a sense that fuller discussions concerning the nature of Scots law, and – should one wish to use the rather loaded term – “Scottish legal culture”, might usefully inform debates ahead.

As a glance at the membership of the Centre will reveal, the term “Scots law” is not used here in any narrow sense. Members of the Centre include, but are not limited to, Scots private lawyers, Scots criminal lawyers, Scots commercial lawyers and Scottish legal historians. This responds to a call made by some senior academics to view “Scots law” broadly, as constituting any area of law which is distinctive to Scotland.

The Centre is engaged in a wide range of activities. A few examples are given below: 

  • It seeks to support research that colleagues are already undertaking in relation to Scots law, broadly defined. It does this in part through a seminar series involving internal and external speakers. As regards internal speakers, its primary aim is to allow colleagues to present work in progress.
  • The Centre aims to support members in engaging more fully with Scottish Law Commission Discussion Papers and Reports, and also with proposals for law reform formulated at the levels of the Scottish and UK parliaments, and indeed elsewhere, in so far as relevant to the development of Scots law.
  • As a long-term aspiration, the Centre aims to engage with the profession through public seminars and the provision of CPD.
  • The Centre aims to involve students, and research students in particular, in its activities.
  • The Centre seeks to engage with members of the public more broadly as regards the current state and development of Scots law.

Throughout, the aim is to provide a public service in the form of rigorous critical engagement with the Scottish legal system from the rich range of perspectives provided by the membership of the Centre.