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Thursday 23 March 2017

Transmissions of court and legal records

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) accepts transmissions of records from courts or legal bodies. This section deals with how to:
  • transmit records to the NAS
  • physically prepare records for transmission
  • make additions to main transmissions
  • make retransmissions
It also provides links to the online forms required for transmissions and retransmissions of records.

How to transmit records to the NAS

Step 1
Transmissions of records to the NAS are made under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 1937 and other statutory rules and regulations. Ensure that:
  • there is authority for transmission under the relevant statutory provisions.
  • that your request conforms to the relevant statutory provisions
  • that you seek the prior agreement of the NAS to make the transfer.
A list of the legislation covering archives can be found in the legislation section. If you wish to transmit Sheriff Court or Court of Session records, you should also read the sheriff court record schedule - Acrobat PDF 154KB, new window, or provisional Court of Session schedule - Acrobat PDF 102KB, new window.

Step 2
Use the relevant records transmission form. Attach this to any group material being transmitted to us, and also email it to the addresses given on the form itself.

Step 3
Contact the Court and Legal Records Branch (CLRB) to make arrangements for the uplift of the records. The CLRB archivists will make a preparatory visit in advance of the transmission to ensure that the correct records have been identified and that they are in a suitable condition for uplift.

Step 4
Prepare the records for uplift and ensure that sufficient court staff and any necessary equipment (eg trolleys) are on hand to assist the NAS staff on the agreed collection date. If possible, material should be organised in such a way that it can be loaded into the vehicle in reverse order, so that when it is unloaded at the NAS, items can be shelved as they are unloaded, starting with the first item in the sequence.

Please note that CLRB often receives in excess of 300m of material each year from the Scottish Courts and holds over 20km of court material in total. Faced with such quantities, it can take us years to sort and catalogue material which is transmitted to us in disorder and/or without accompanying finding aids. Where disproportionate effort is required from the NAS staff to make such records available, we reserve the right to charge the transmitting court for the time and effort required. It is therefore in your interests to follow the above guidelines.

Physical preparation for transmission

The following guidelines when preparing records for transmission to the NAS may prove useful. All records should be packaged and labelled so that they are protected from damage during transit and can be clearly identified.

Wherever possible, items should be boxed. Use boxes which meet the NAS box specification or else have been approved by NAS Conservation Services Branch. Boxes should not be overfull and should close easily.

No elastic bands, sticky tape or corrosive clips or pins should be used to keep material together - only unbleached cotton tying tape should be used. For advice on current costs and suppliers of boxes and tape, contact NAS Conservation Services Branch at

Boxes should be clearly labelled and any old references erased or clearly struck through to avoid confusion. Where it is impossible to box an item, references should be attached by tying a paper slip to the item with cotton tape. If it is completely impossible to label the item without writing directly on it, a 2B pencil should be used.

Basic storage precautions can help prevent the serious problems caused by water leaks or floods.

Wherever possible, items should be boxed – this is the single best way to safeguard records as boxes protect them from dirt and dust and act as a barrier which buys them valuable time in the event of a fire or flood. Use boxes which meet the NAS box specification or else have been approved by NAS Conservation Services Branch and replace any which become worn, damp or broken.

Avoid storing records in rooms which are either damp or overheated, on floors, under pipes or in areas prone to leaks or floods and check storage areas regularly to ensure that no problems have arisen (eg leaking pipes, insect infestation).

Keep storage areas clean and tidy and avoid over-filling boxes or shelves. Lack of space for record storage can often be alleviated by good records management . The schedules mentioned in step 1 above set out how long different types of record need to be kept for. Regularly checking your holdings against the schedules will ensure that records which do not require permanent preservation are disposed of as soon as possible, freeing up space for material which is still needed.

Additions to main transmissions

We frequently discover that records are missing from a main transmission because the depositor has retained them for current use. These records are often sent to the NAS later and appear unannounced. Be sure to give us advance notice of any records to be sent in this way, otherwise they may be returned to you

When submitting records outwith the main transmission, they must be accompanied by the appropriate records transmission form stating to which record series they belong.

Items being transmitted to the NAS for the first time must always come in as a separate, new, transmission. They must never be attached or added to records which have already been transmitted to the NAS but which have been retransmitted to the court for business purposes. If a retransmitted record acquires new material while at the court (eg if case papers are added to during an appeal), this should be made clear when they are returned to the NAS.

Temporary retransmissions

The NAS will return, or retransmit, your own records at your specific request, provided you give us sufficient information. Retransmissions are intended for short-term use of the records by depositors.

The majority of papers which we return to depositors are:

  • Court of Session unextracted processes
  • High Court criminal trial papers and appeals
  • Sheriff court civil processes
  • Crown Office precognitions and appeals
  • Accountant in Bankruptcy sederunt books
Details of how to request a temporary retransmission are given on our temporary retransmissions page.

Online forms

The following forms are available in Acrobat PDF format:

[Sheriff Principal's letter - Acrobat PDF 68KB, new window]
[Sheriff Court pre-inspections survey form - Acrobat PDF 104KB, new window]
[High Court of Justiciary records transmission form - Acrobat PDF 23KB, new window]
[Crown Office records transmission form - Acrobat PDF 25KB, new window]

If you would like copies of these documents in Word format please e-mail court& Remember to state which court you work for.

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