Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court

On 3 October the Judicial Independence Project held the fifth in our series of practitioner seminars on ‘Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court’. The seminar was run under Chatham House Rule but we have prepared a short note available on our project website: read the note.

Amongst the points made by contributors was that statistics do not bear out the popular perception that the Supreme Court is exercising more power over the Scottish legal system than was the case prior to Scottish devolution. Although there has been an increase in the volume of cases going from Scotland to the Supreme Court (and its predecessor the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords) the success rate for Scottish appeals was essentially the same as that for other cases under the Appellate Committee, and since the creation of the Supreme Court in 2009 the success rate for Scottish appeals has been notably less than that of others.

There were differing views on appointments to the Supreme Court. The Crime and Courts Bill proposes to remove the Deputy President from the appointment commission for the Court. Some regarded this as negative: the justices of the Court have the best knowledge about what the court needs in new appointments. Others disagreed, arguing that while this might be true, no part of government in a democracy should be self-replicating.

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