The Court of the University of Edinburgh was formed at the end of 1859, after the passing of the Universities ( Scotland) Act, 1858. It consisted of the Lord Rector, his assessor, the Chancellor's assessor, Principal, Lord Provost, Town Council's assessor, University Council's assessor and an assessor elected by the Senatus Academicus. The Court functions at this time were to revise, on appeal, the acts of the Senatus, to sanction the expenditure by the Senatus of University funds and generally to take a supervision of the professors. The Commissioners of the 1858 Act performed many of these functions until their dispersal.
By the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1889, the University Court became a body corporate, with perpetual succession and a common seal; and all the property belonging to the University at the passing of the Act was now vested in that body. The present powers of the Court, which include among others, the amendment of the composition, powers and functions of the bodies in the University, and the creation of new bodies, the administration and management of the whole revenue and property of the University, internal arrangements of the University, appointments, review of decisions of the Senatus, and, on recommendation of the Senatus, the regulation of degrees and administration and discipline of students, are defined in the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1966.
The Court now also includes three assessors elected by the General Council, four Senatus assessors, one assesor elected by members of the non-teaching staff, two fully-matriculated students nominated by the Students' Representative Council and eight co-opted members. The Rector is the President of the Court. The Vice-Chairman of the Court is elected triennially by the Court from among its members. Meetings are normally held seven times a year.