Lord President asks for amendment to Scotland Bill allowing Scottish Courts to
bury handle Human Rights appeals. IN a move seen by many legal observers as an indication the retiring Lord President, Lord Hamilton may not be so retiring from the legal scene as some may have expected, the Lord President has written to the UK Parliament to ask its MPs to add a restriction on criminal appeals to the UK Supreme Court to the Scotland Bill provisions dealing with devolution issues, thus ensuring the Court of Session can ‘take care of’ any Human Rights infringements, and bury the chance of any appeal from Scotland being heard at the UK’s Supreme Court, a move welcomed (even if it was arranged) by the SNP. The move brings the Lord President into line with the wishes of the Scottish Government, who fell over themselves to castigate the UK’s Supreme Court and even it’s Scottish judges after rulings in the Cadder v HMA case and Nat Fraser appeal.
The Lord President’s representations to Westminster can be read online HERE
Now that the Lord President has ‘rolled over’ to make a judicial request to back up the harsh words from Scottish Ministers, who did not enjoy the impression which was created that Scotland’s justice system and its courts simply couldn't be trusted with appeals, particularly on ECHR issues, the way is now clear for Lord Hamilton to return to a few appointments at the behest of Scottish Ministers as soon as is practicably possible (String pulling comes to mind – Ed)
The Press Release from the Judiciary of Scotland : Lord President Makes Written Representations to Parliament
The Lord President is urging Parliament to do two things:
(1) to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Scottish criminal appeals and references to the remedying of infringements by the courts below as well as by the prosecutor; but
(2) to restrict those cases in which leave may be granted to appeal to the Supreme Court from the High Court of Justiciary to cases in which the High Court has certified that a point of law of general public importance is involved in the decision.
As to (2), the Court of Criminal Appeal in England and Wales and the equivalent court in Northern Ireland have long had a certification procedure which has proved to be valuable. The Lord President wishes to secure a similar provision for the High Court in Scotland.
The Lord President seeks, in the Scotland Bill, an amendment to the Scotland Act 1998 to the above effect.
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Section 5 Representations to Parliament.
(1)The chief justice of any part of the United Kingdom may lay before Parliament written representations on matters that appear to him to be matters of importance relating to the judiciary, or otherwise to the administration of justice, in that part of the United Kingdom.
(2)In relation to Scotland those matters do not include matters within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, unless they are matters to which a Bill for an Act of Parliament relates.
(3)In relation to Northern Ireland those matters do not include transferred matters within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly, unless they are matters to which a Bill for an Act of Parliament relates.
(4)In subsection (3) the reference to transferred matters has the meaning given by section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (c. 47).
(5)In this section “chief justice” means—
(a)in relation to England and Wales or Northern Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice of that part of the United Kingdom;
(b)in relation to Scotland, the Lord President of the Court of Session.
Section 5: Representations to Parliament
Section 5 provides that the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and the Lord President of the Court of Session may table written representations to Parliament on matters relating to the judiciary or the administration of justice. In respect of the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, this function is qualified by subsections (2) and (3) in order to respect the devolution settlements with Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.