Breastfeeding at Court -
Frequently Asked Questions

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) is committed to mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusion and is developing a culture where these values are firmly established in the way we conduct our business.

Pregnancy and maternity is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and SCTS recognises its obligation to prevent discrimination against women who are pregnant, on maternity leave or breastfeeding – this applies to all service users. However, section 50 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, prevents any child under 14 years of age, other than an infant in arms, from being in court during criminal proceedings (unless they are a party or a witness).


Does SCTS have a policy on allowing women to breastfeed within court premises? 

SCTS fully embraces the aim of the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 to enable any person to breastfeed in the most appropriate place. The Act applies to all employers and employees in premises where the public have general access. 

It is SCTS’s responsibility to ensure that all staff members are fully aware of the terms of the Act. SCTS staff  have a duty to ensure that mothers who are feeding their children are not prevented from doing so or interrupted in any way. Anyone who tries to stop or prevent a person feeding milk to a child under the age of 2 years can be prosecuted. 

If SCTS staff members are approached by a breastfeeding mother they should:

• be prepared to offer assistance – some mothers may want to feed in private and staff should think about ways in which they could support this.

• respect their space – staff should try not to interrupt or disturb breastfeeding mothers unnecessarily.

In all circumstances, the question of making reasonable adjustments is carefully considered in order to ensure that breastfeeding mothers are not treated less favourably than other service users.

For more information please refer to the Scottish Government’s leaflet.

Is breastfeeding permitted in the court room whilst it is sitting? 

Breastfeeding is permitted in court rooms however it is always subject to the interests of justice and the conduct of court proceedings. It is a matter for the presiding judge/sheriff or justice of the peace in each case.


Can breastfeeding mothers be excused from jury duty?

The clerk of court will consider requests for excusal on an individual basis and will take an appropriate view based on the circumstances of each individual.  Anyone wishing to be excused from jury service is normally asked to submit their reasons to the court for consideration and to include any relevant supporting documentation.

It is not our policy to request a medical certificate to support a request for excusal on the grounds of breastfeeding. Requests for excusal on the basis of breastfeeding should not be refused.


Can breastfeeding mothers serve on the jury?

If a juror decides not to seek excusal, the court will consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether it would be practical for the breastfeeding mother to serve on the jury. Although we will always try to assist with enabling this, it should be noted that the practicalities involved could make breastfeeding in the course of jury service extremely difficult (in particular, during the period in which the jury is secluded)


What guidance can you provide for breastfeeding mothers who have been called as a witness?

Ultimately the excusal of a witness is a matter for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) or the Solicitor who has cited the witness to attend. In line with the SCTS Court User’s Charter, staff members in our courts and tribunals welcome contact from those requiring support or additional facilities to allow any specific arrangements to be discussed. The matter would be brought to the attention of the presiding judge/sheriff/justice of the peace to ensure that appropriate arrangements can be put in place to facilitate the feeding process.

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