Church law

The General Assembly acts as the highest court of the Church of Scotland, and has the authority to make laws determining how the Church of Scotland operates.

A full list of these laws, referred to as acts and regulations, dating back to 1929, is available to download on the website. Please note we no longer provide a printed copy of the Acts and Regulations of the General Assembly.

Standing Orders

The Standing Orders describe how business should be conducted at the General Assembly and specify the membership of the Church's committees.

The Barrier Act 1697

The Barrier Act 1697 is a fundamental act which was introduced to require the General Assembly to consult the Church widely when innovating core areas.

The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the Overture and Act made in the last Assembly concerning innovations, and having heard the report of the several commissioners from Presbyteries to whom the consideration of the same was recommended in order to its being more ripely advised and determined in this Assembly; and considering the frequent practice of former Assemblies of this Church, and that it will mightily conduce to the exact obedience of the Acts of Assemblies, that General Assemblies be very deliberate in making of the same, and that the whole Church have a previous knowledge thereof, and their opinion be had therein, and for preventing any sudden alteration or innovation, or other prejudice to the Church, in either doctrine or worship, or discipline, or government thereof, now happily established; do, therefore, appoint, enact, and declare, that before any General Assembly of this Church shall pass any Acts, which are to be binding Rules and Constitutions to the Church, the same Acts be first proposed as overtures to the Assembly, and, being by them passed as such, be remitted to the consideration of the several Presbyteries of this Church, and their opinions and consent reported by their commissioners to the next General Assembly following, who may then pass the same in Acts, if the more general opinion of the Church thus had agreed thereunto.