(784) ‘CAPTAIN CALAMITY’: IS SHETLAND IN SCOTLAND?
Stuart Hill (65) gained some media attention with his proclaimed intention to argue in Lerwick Sheriff Court on 25 March 2008 that the court had no jurisdiction since the Shetland Isles are not in law part of Scotland or subject to Scots law. He was being sued in a small claims action by a local accountancy firm called A9 for non-payment of fees. Mr Hill’s argument was based on the unredeemed impignoration of the islands by the Danish to the Scottish Crown in 1469 on the occasion of King James III’s marriage to a daughter of King Christian of Denmark; the suggestion is that this means Shetland was not owned by the Scottish or its successor British state. The case was however postponed for a month as a result of the sheriff for whom it had been set down becoming snow-bound on the mainland, and on 20 April it was reported that Mr Hill had decided to settle with the pursuers and seek another occasion upon which to advance his historical and jurisdictional claims. Possibly by this time he had had an opportunity to consult the article on Udal Law in volume 24 of the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, which fairly comprehensively demolishes the argument that Mr Hill intended to put forward, clarifying the key distinction between dominium and sovereignty. Mr Hill has lived in Shetland since being shipwrecked there in 2001, the ignominious end to an ill-fated attempt to sail round Britain anti-clockwise in his 15-foot converted rowing boat with a windsurfing sail. His misadventures en route gave rise to the media nickname Captain Calamity” even before the final capsize of the vessel off Shetland (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1503308.stm). Mr Hill now runs a website called The Shetland Conversation