The Court of the Lord Lyon is a court of law, and applications for Arms are made by a formal "Petition". This is done on the initiative of the person wishing to obtain Arms, who submits a Petition to the Lord Lyon stating who he is and asking for Arms to be granted to him. The process is not complicated. There are four main varieties of Petition:
Advice on any special difficulties or matters not covered can be obtained by writing to the Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon, HM New Register House, Edinburgh, EHl 3YT, and to whom all completed Petitions should be sent. All such correspondence is 'CONFIDENTIAL '.
There is a queue of Petitions waiting to be considered. Petitions are considered in the order in which they are lodged. It takes between 4-6 months for a Petition to reach the front of the queue. The Petition then comes before the Lord Lyon who normally communicates with the Petitioner, or his Agent, by letter to discuss any points which arise and, if the Lord Lyon is willing to grant the Petition, to discuss the design of the Arms.
Petitioners are welcome to submit a suggested design along with the Petition, or to suggest ideas that they would like the Lord Lyon to consider within the design. However there is absolutely no need to do this and a great many Petitioners do not do so.
The Lord Lyon designs the Arms which are to be granted. In doing so he takes into account the many rules and traditions of Scottish heraldry and he ensures that each design is unique. So far as possible he tries to meet the wishes of the Petitioner, but it should be understood that there is no certainty that the Lord Lyon will be able to adopt all or even parts of any design which is submitted. In arriving at a design the Lord Lyon endeavours to ensure that the Petitioner is happy with the final result.
Once the design has been agreed, the Lord Lyon composes the verbal description of the Arms known as the 'blazon' and grants a warrant authorising Letters Patent to be prepared.
The Petition then goes to the Lyon Clerk who drafts the text of the Letters Patent and sends this to the Petitioner for approval. The Petitioner will also be asked if additional decoration or artwork, for which an additional charge will be made, is desired. Payment is then made.
The Lyon Clerk then arranges for one of the Lyon Court artists to prepare the Letters Patent on vellum, and a copy is also prepared to be retained in the Register of Arms maintained in the Court of the Lord Lyon. When the completed document is ready it is sealed and signed by the Lord Lyon and then handed over to the Petitioner to keep.
A similar process is followed in the case of a Petition for a Matriculation from an existing grant of Arms.
The whole process generally takes between 10 and 12 months from the date of lodging of the Petition.
Once Arms have been granted and recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, they are protected under the law of Scotland. Any infringement of a person's armorial rights in Scotland may be drawn to the attention of the Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon, who may mount any necessary prosecution of the offender.
In return for this permanent legal protection and for the maintenance of the permanent registration of Arms in the Court of the Lord Lyon a fee is charged to the Petitioner. The fee is made up of Government dues, Herald Painter's fees and costs of materials in preparing the Petitioner's Letters Patent. This is his title deed to the Arms, written in a formal script on vellum, illustrating his Arms in full colour, and sealed with the Seal of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The fees are fixed by Statute, and rise from time to time.
All statements made in Petitions must be accompanied by legal proof, usually Certificates of Birth and Marriage for statements of parentage and ancestry. It is the Petitioner's responsibility to provide this proof. Petitioners may employ their own genealogists to provide the proof.
Petitioners requiring assistance in preparing the Petition may write to the Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon stating their requirements and objectives. Copies of specimens of the various types of Petition are available on request.