Sheriff officers and messengers-at-arms work for the Scottish courts, enforcing court orders, serving legal documents and collecting debts. They do similar work to county court bailiffs in England and Wales.
Your duties in this job might include:
Sheriff officers work for the civil courts and hold a 'commission' to work in a particular region, while messengers-at-arms can travel anywhere in Scotland to enforce orders of the Court of Session. Collectively they are known as 'officers of court'.
You would work around 37 to 40 hours a week in a full-time job. You must be flexible in your working hours, and be able to cover early morning, evenings and weekends. Part-time work is possible.
You would have an office base but you would spend most of your time travelling to visit debtors. The job often involves lifting and carrying goods.
Training salaries can be between £12,000 and £16,000 a year. Qualified sheriffs officers usually earn around £26,000 a year, with £28,000 for messengers-at-arms.
Many firms pay a basic salary plus some form of commission or incentive payment to boost earnings.
There are about 200 sheriff officers in Scotland, and around 130 of these are also messengers-at-arms. You would be employed by private firms of sheriff officers and messengers-at-arms and be commissioned to work for the courts.
The members list on the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers website is a good place to start to find contacts for possible job vacancies.
You would usually start as a witness to a sheriff officer. To be commissioned as a sheriff officer you must be 20 years old or over, with at least three years' training with an officer of court. You must also pass the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers exam.
You will usually need at least five S grades (1-3) including English and maths to take the sheriff officer exam. Other qualifications or relevant work experience may be accepted – check with the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers.
You could start as a witness to a sheriff officer before you are 20, but you must be at least 20 before you can take the exam and gain the commission. You will also usually need a full clean driving licence and the use of a car for work.
You would be trained on the job, through a mixture of working with a qualified officer of court and attending short courses. This normally takes three years.
You can continue with training and development throughout your career, through the continuing professional development (CPD) scheme that the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers provides for its members.
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A sheriff officer needs:
After at least two years' experience as a qualified sheriff officer, you can take a further exam and apply to be commissioned as a messenger-at-arms.
Society of Messengers-at-Arms
and Sheriff Officers,
11 Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 4PH
Tel: 0131 225 9110
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.