Complaints Procedure


Messengers-at-arms and sheriff officers are public officers, who serve the courts and the public. Whether acting in an official or unofficial capacity, every officer is bound to abide by the Code of Practice for Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers.

If you have reason to complain about an officer, the Society will be pleased to try to assist. All officers are required to be members of the Society and to co-operate with the Societys investigations.

It is hoped that the Societys intervention could allow your concerns to be fully considered and the problem resolved. However, if your complaint, upon investigation, showed that serious disciplinary issues were involved about a particular officer, the Society itself would report the circumstances to the relevant judge.

These are our procedures for dealing with complaints:

1. Complaints must be made in writing, letters or e-mails being acceptable. Please send them to the Administrative Secretary at Forth House, 28 Rutland Square, Edinburgh, EH1 2BW or e-mail to You will receive either a letter or an e-mail from the Administrative Secretary as an acknowledgement.

2. The complainers name and contact address must be given, but any request to keep your name and address confidential would be honoured. Indeed, no letter or e-mail from a complainer would be copied to the officer complained of without the writers permission.

3. The Honorary Secretary is the official of the Society who deals with complaints. Either he or the Administrative Secretary would contact the officer about whom you have complained and explain the matters at issue. You would receive a response, normally in writing, from the Administrative Secretary.

4. The following options are available to the Honorary Secretary:

(a) He might tell you that, having investigated matters as far as he can, he thinks that you have no justifiable grounds to complain about the officer. The Society would therefore take no further action; you, however, would still be entitled to send your complaint directly to either the relevant Sheriff Principal or the Lord President.

(b) He might ask the Executive Council of the Society (consisting of the elected office-bearers, Council members and all past presidents) to consider your complaint at an Executive Council meeting. In this way, a group decision could be taken on whether your complaint could be resolved by the Society.

(c) He might conclude that your complaint does raise serious disciplinary issues. If this were the case, he would, if you gave your permission, forward your complaint to the relevant judge and report to him on the Societys own investigations.

Please note that the Society has no disciplinary powers over its members: those powers lie with the relevant Sheriff Principal or the Lord President. You are always entitled to send your complaint directly to those judges, if you prefer. The Society will give you the contact addresses, if you ask for them.