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Title: The Lords of Council and Session and the foundation of the College of Justice : a study in jurisdiction
Author: Godfrey, A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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In this thesis the significance of the establishment of the College of Justice in 1532 is re-assessed. It was the culmination of a number of institutional reforms to the Session which had occurred since the 1520s, and it will be argued that it entrenched the institutional structure of the Session as a body distinct from the King's Council and conferred upon it a new degree of autonomy. Its jurisdiction was the same as that of the Session, but analysis of the judicial decisions of the Lords of Council and Sessions shows that by 1532 this jurisdiction had expanded when compared with the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. By 1513 the King's Council and the Session exercised a comprehensive jurisdiction which encompassed all civil actions except those which concerned the ownership of land, know as fee and heritage actions. By 1532, however, it had become unknown for Council and Session to decline jurisdiction in an action over fee and heritage. Correspondingly, the practice of remitting such actions to other courts through lack of jurisdiction seems to have ceased. Disputes over fee and heritage seem to have resolved increasingly through actions before Council and Session for the reduction of an infeftment, which type of action had also become more common since the early sixteenth century. Exceptions taken to the competency of Council or Session deciding upon fee and heritage were now almost entirely in such instances. By 1540, however, such exceptions were otiose, because the Lords of Council and Session had come to regard an action for the reduction of an infeftment as the only competent means by which a title to land in fee and heritage could be declared invalid, and regarded such actions as exclusively within their own jurisdiction. Having in practice been obviated for many years, the old jurisdictional restriction thus became obsolete. In 1532, therefore, the jurisdiction of the Lords of Council and Session had been enhanced, but so too had their involvement in arbitration procedure and the regulation of extra-judicial settlements. Such involvement demonstrates the manner in which private methods of dispute settlement were becoming integrated with the public administration of justice. The "practick" of the Lords was also by this time varied and extensive, and the remedies of advocation, suspension and reduction allowed the Lords to review the decisions of other courts of law and to substitute their own determination. The conclusion of this thesis is that with its reconstitution as the College of Justice the Session effectively assumed the role of the supreme central court.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available