A major inward investment in Scotland by Cadence Design Systems, the Californian microchip supplier, was announced in December 1997. Amongst the various attractions of Scotland named by the company was the Scottish legal system, in particular its stability, the willingness and open-mindedness of the Scottish legal profession, the speed with which contracts can be finalised under Scots law, and the law of intellectual property. Also mentioned was the willingness of legislators to extend the law to facilitate intellectual property exchange. The major investment will be at Livingston (West Lothian), involving the creation of a design complex where standard exchange mechanisms for intellectual property blocks are created, transforming the way in which companies exchange information. The Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde will also be involved in providing training and research. The project as a whole is expected to create 1900 jobs.
A United Nations team came to Scotland on 3 December 1997 to investigate the capacity of the Scottish legal system to conduct a fair trial of the two Libyans suspected of bombing the PanAm jet which exploded over Lockerbie, Dumfries-shire in December 1988. The team consisted of Enoch Dumbutschena (Zimbabwe), Henry Schermers (Netherlands) and Mona Khalil (UN). The visit lasted for three days, and a report was published on 22 December 1997. The conclusion was that a fair trial could be held in Scotland. It had been proposed that the trial be held in a neutral country but under a panel of international judges, chaired by a Scottish judge, and applying Scottish law. This option, to which the Libyan Government has indicated its agreement and which also has the support of Nelson Mandela, has been rejected by the UK Government. For further details of the proposal, see R Black, The Lockerbie Proposal, 1997 SLT (News) 304; see also the Lord Advocate’s response to Professor Black: Lord Hardie, The Lockerbie Trial, 1998 SLT (News) 9.
The dispute over the hypertext links from the Shetland News website (http://www.shetland-news.co.uk) to the Shetland Times website http://www.shetland-times.co.uk (see No 13 ) was settled in the door of the Court of Session on 11 November 1997. The parties agreed that the Shetland News could provide links to the Shetland Times, provided that each such link included a statement that it was a Shetland Times story along with a closely adjacent button showing legibly the Shetland Times masthead logo. Each party also agreed to bear its own costs.
Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) left his great art collection to the city of Glasgow on condition that any lending of an item from or part of the collection would only be within Great Britain. The Collection is on public display in Pollok, Glasgow. On 30 October 1997 a parliamentary commission concluded that the condition restraining lending to Great Britain could now be partially over-ridden to enable loans to be made overseas. The commission accepted that handling and transportation of works of art have greatly improved. Limitations were placed upon the power to lend abroad, however, taking account of items which Sir William had rightly regarded as especially vulnerable (mostly textile items). The Glasgow council had argued that lending from the Burrell Collection would enhance the city’s reputation, bring in revenue to enable further art purchasing, and encourage reciprocal lending from other collections. The decision of the commissioners was criticised by Mrs Janey Buchan, a former MEP and Glasgow councillor, as a breach of trust and a profoundly anti-democratic procedure to instigate someone to break a gift.
In July 1997 the Government published its proposals for Scottish devolution in a White Paper entitled Scotland’s Parliament (Cm 3658). The White Paper proposed the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers, to sit in Edinburgh. The basis of devolution was that all matters not specifically reserved to Westminster would be devolved. Matters reserved are to include “common markets for UK goods and services at home and abroad”, which encompasses the law on companies and business associations, insurance, corporate insolvency and intellectual property, regulation of financial institutions and financial services, competition policy (subject to satisfactory rights of representation in the Scottish interest), consumer protection, energy regulation, international trade policy and Export Credit Guarantee Department matters. Employment law and social security will also not be devolved. Matters to be devolved include criminal law and procedure (but not including drugs and firearms), civil law, judicial appointments, courts and tribunals, legal aid, prosecution, prisons, parole and police. The referendum on these proposals was held on 11 September 1997. On a turnout of 60.4% of the electorate, 74.3% agreed that there should be a Scottish Parliament, and 63.5% agreed that it should have tax-varying powers. The location of the Parliament is a matter of public debate, with three sites in the Edinburgh area in contention: Calton Hill (which until recently was understood to be the likely location), Leith (conveniently beside the main buildings of The Scottish Office), and Haymarket. Another White Paper, Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill (Cm 3782: October 1997), makes clear that Acts of the Scottish Parliament which are inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights will be challengeable in the courts as unlawful. Courts will by contrast only be able to find Acts of the Westminster Parliament incompatible with the Convention without affecting the validity or continuing operation of the legislation.
On 21 July 1997 the Government announced its intention to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention prevents the use of uninhabited rocks without an economy as a basis for national territorial claims to the seabed. As a result the isle of , a rock some 70 feet high and 83 feet long at its widest point and located in the Atlantic Ocean at 52 20N 14 0W, 187 miles west of Ardnamurchan, has ceased to be the basis for a British claim to fishing, mining and oil rights within a 200-mile radius. Instead, British territorial rights will henceforth be derived from the St Kilda archipelago at 57 50N 8 40W, although the 200-mile radius from there does include itself, and as a result Scots law continues to apply in this, its most westerly outpost (see Isle of Act 1972). The Government’s decision was hailed as a triumph for the environmental pressure group, Greenpeace, members of which had occupied from early in June to press for ratification of the Convention. But the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation stated that “the whole principle of giving up an area of that size is something we cannot support. … now .. our boats will face international competition if they want to develop a fishery for unexploited deep water species out there.” The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations declared that its members were “totally sick of the way this whole thing has been handled. … Essentially the Government has surrendered on British fishing jurisdiction”. (Source The Scotsman, 28 and 29 July 1997). It may be noted that one possible derivation of the mysterious name of is the Gaelic sgeir rocail, “sea rock of roaring”.
In September 1997 the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Edinburgh upheld both rulings in the cases raising the issue of whether race relations legislation applied to discrimination on the grounds of being Scottish or English (see No 16). The case of Graham Power, who claimed that his application to become a Chief Constable in Scotland was rejected because he was English, was found relevant because it was based on an argument that the Scots and English were different races in consequence of distinct nationalities. The claim of the four British Airways stewards, being based on an argument that the Scots and English were distinct ethnic groups, was however found to have been properly rejected.