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Civil Jurisdiction


It has to be remembered that these courts were established because the crown did not have the resources to establish a universal system of justice. Initially, the powers were extensive, but as the crown established its own system the power of these courts was reduced.

In 1654 Cromwell limited the jurisdiction to civil actions not exceeding forty shillings (sterling).

The Act of 1747 curtailed the civil power of the baron court - but did not sweep it away in its entirety as the Edinburgh legal and landowning populace found it a very useful instrument for collecting unpaid rents.

The 1747 Act restricted the criminal jurisdiction to:


  • any case where the debt or damages should exceed the sum of forty shillings sterling.
  • other than for the recovery of and uplifting from the vassals, tenants or possessors ....the mails and duties, or rents and profits thereof.
  • or for the recovery of multures or services payable or prestable to their mills.