Focus of reforms moves from structure to function, says Lord President

27 Sep


The focus of court reforms must now shift from structure to function, without losing sight of the goal of a justice system which works efficiently, the Lord President, Lord Carloway, said in an address at the opening of the Legal Year.

Lord Carloway noted that in February 2017, a decade will have passed since Lord Gill was tasked with reviewing the civil justice system.

“Over that period, all of our professional lives – as judges, advocates, solicitors, and court staff – have become steeped in the process and language of change,” he told an audience in the First Division courtroom in Parliament House.

“The purpose and principles of the reforms – to make the justice system work efficiently and, in particular, to promote just decisions which are delivered in proportionate time and at proportionate cost – are well known. We must not lose sight of that goal.”

After detailing the Sheriff Appeal Court and the All Scotland Personal Injury Sheriff Court, he continued: “The focus must now shift from structure to function. The success of the reforms, and of the new courts, will depend not only on the structure which is now in place, but on the continued commitment of the judiciary, court staff, and the profession to make sure that the goal of the reforms is met.”

Lord Carloway announced that two Outer House judges would sit throughout the term to hear ordinary civil business in the Court of Session. The aim was to reduce the prospect of losing proof and judicial review diets.

“With two permanent Lords Ordinary in the Outer House, augmented by two more at any given time, to deal with ordinary and family causes, the Cinderella reputation of the non-commercial Outer House ought to be successfully addressed,” added Lord Carloway.

He also covered the planned ending of the summer recess, meaning “practitioners will take their vacations according to their own business calendars rather than having to follow that of the court.”

Lord Carloway introduced 13 new Queen’s Counsel to the Court. He said the rank and dignity of Queen’s Counsel was hard earned and well deserved for each of them.

Twelve were members of Faculty - Ashley Edwards, Lisa Henderson, Steven Love, Ross Macfarlane, Euan Mackenzie, Marcus McKay, Douglas Ross, Morag Ross, Kay Springham, Lauren Sutherland, Susanne Tanner and Steven Walker – and the other was Iain McSporran, solicitor-advocate.

The full address, with tributes to the QCs, is here