Tuesday 11 November 2003

Why not in Edinburgh?

Tony Blair has stirred up a hornets' nest:
Government plans for a new Supreme Court could undermine the independence of Scots law, legal experts claimed yesterday.

And the move could be unconstitutional if the new court is seen to be part of the England and Wales court system, it was argued.

The Faculty of Advocates is up in arms:
The faculty said it had "serious concern" that the Supreme Court plan, as drafted, fails to respect the independence of Scots law under the 1707 Act of Union.

Any court with jurisdiction in Scotland cannot be a part of the England and Wales court system, and the faculty warned: "The constitutional significance of this cannot be overstated.

"Any attempt to create a Supreme Court which did not comply with these requirements would be contrary to the constitution of the United Kingdom, and any purported act in, or affecting, Scotland in such a court would be unlawful and of no effect in Scotland."

I'm pleased to see that Scotland's lawyers are objecting to Blair's constitutional coup d'etat.

The editorial in The Herald says that:

The threat of crisis can be avoided by the prime minister taking up the faculty's suggestion to put the supreme court firmly out of the reach of government, perhaps by giving it a home outside London and having it sit on a UK-wide circuit; certainly by creating a body at arm's length from the administration to disburse funding.
That seems reasonable. Come to think of it I don't imagine that the Act of Union makes it unconstitutional for English cases to be held under Scots law. No one would have imagined such an eventuality. So why don't we set up the new UK Supreme Court here in Edinburgh, under Scots law? What could be wrong with that?