Procurator Fiscal

    Industry: Legal Services

    Summary: Procurators fiscal are qualified solicitors who work for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). They investigate and prosecute all crime in Scotland and are independent of the police and the courts.

    Average salary: The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:where you work the size of the organisation you work for the demand for the job.Starting salary for a COPFS Legal Trainee is currently £18,667 in year 1 and £20,837 in year 2. Solicitors with less than three years post qualifying experience, working as a procurator fiscal, will receive a starting salary of around £30,000. At the end of your second year, after satisfactory performance, your salary will rise to £39,000. The salary for a procurator fiscal depute with six or more years post qualifying experience is £39,000 to £46,365 a year. A senior procurator fiscal depute earns £45,084 to £52,540. A district procurator fiscal earns between £48,899 and £128,900 a year. And, an area procurator fiscal earns between £58,200 and £162,500 a year. Salaries will change on 1st August 2013 in line with the Law Society's recommended rates.

    The requirements

    • organisational
    • research
    • attention to detail
    • confidence
    • assertive
    • good memory
    • handling complex information
    • handling sensitive information
    • patience
    • problem solving
    • trustworthy
    • First Degree
    • law

    Read further information about this career



    Procurator fiscal; public prosecutor; prosecutor; coroner; lawyer; solicitor

    The work

    You could be:

    • receiving and investigating reports of incidents from the police and other law enforcement bodies, such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
    • deciding if a crime has been committed under Scots Law and if there is enough available evidence to prosecute - this process involves much legal research
    • deciding if it is in the public interest to prosecute or whether to impose a fixed penalty fine
    • preparing cases for prosecution, summoning witnesses, instructing the police and other agencies to gather evidence
    • initiating prosecution by putting the facts to the court - Justice of the Peace, Sheriff or High Court depending on how serious the crime is or, in the case of juvenile crime, referring the case to the Reporter to the Children’s Panel
    • presenting the case for the prosecution in jury trials in the Justice of the Peace and Sheriff Courts and preparing cases for Crown Counsel (who are advocates) to present in the High Court
    • investigating and deciding on cases of sudden or suspicious death
    • in some such cases, initiating a Fatal Accident Inquiry
    • attending the scene of such deaths with a pathologist, as a coroner would in England and Wales.


    • Procurators fiscal work from offices and in the law courts.
    • You may have to visit scenes of crime of accidents.
    • You would normally work a 37-hour week but may have to work long hours when you are preparing an important case.
    • You would be on a rota to be on call over weekends and evenings.
    • You have to wear a gown in court.

    Getting in

    In 2011, the Law Society of Scotland introduced a new system for educating and training solicitors in Scotland.

    • All procurators fiscal are qualified solicitors. You must first obtain the relevant law degree (Foundation Programme) and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1). The Diploma is the first stage of Professional Education and Training or PEAT, the term used to describe the postgraduate stages of becoming a solicitor. For detailed requirements into this profession, see the job profile Solicitor.
    • For entry to the LLB degree, you need Highers or Advanced Highers at A or B. (Check university prospectuses for the entry requirements for individual LLB courses). You need Higher English, and some universities also specify passes in Maths, science subjects, a language or a social science subject at Standard grade Credit level or National 5.
    • If you apply to Glasgow University to study law you have to sit the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). You must register with LNAT to sit the test. You must also apply through UCAS.
    • Following completion of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1)you then complete 2 years post-Diploma practical training (PEAT 2) with a practising solicitor. The 2-year traineeship could be with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
    • COPFS offers a limited number of Legal Traineeships each year. There is strong competition for these places. The closing date for these posts is usually around February each year.

    What does it take

    You need to be:

    • independent, honest and trustworthy
    • self-confident
    • assertive
    • able to make decisions which may be unpopular
    • able to analyse situations logically, understand facts and present them clearly
    • good at speaking out in public
    You need to have:
    • patience, perseverance, attention to detail
    • a good memory
    • research skills
    • good organisational skills.


    • Trainees in the COPFS follow a highly structured training programme.
    • In the first year, you would work in some of the specialised units in the Crown Office in Edinburgh, such as the Appeals Unit or the Crown Counsel.
    • In the second year, you would carry out the duties of a procurator fiscal depute, under supervision from senior colleagues, including the preparation and presentation of a case in court.
    • If you are already a qualified solicitor, you can also join the COPFS as a procurator fiscal depute. You would shadow experienced staff as you gain experience of the service and of carrying out prosecutions.

    More Information

    For the session 2014-2015 students studying the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1) can apply for a tuition fee loan under the Postgraduate Students’ Allowances Scheme (PSAS). If you are a full time student you can receive up to £3,400, or up to £1,700 if you are a part time student. You start repaying the loan once you are in work and earning more than £16,910 a year, at a rate of 9% of your income. Visit the Law Society of Scotland's website for more information.


    Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
    25 Chambers Street Edinburgh EH1 1LA
    Tel: 0844 561 3000
    tel2: 01389 739557

    Law Society of Scotland
    Tel: 0131 226 7411
    Notes: Lawscot Jobs is the recruitment website from the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland.

    Skills for Justice
    140 Causewayside Edinburgh EH9 1PR
    Tel: 0131 662 5234
    Notes: Skills for Justice is the Sector Skills Council for the Justice, Community Safety and Legal Services Sectors. The careers section of their website holds information on the careers within these sectors.

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