(125)  Temporary sheriffs and human rights again

On 24 July 2001 the Privy Council ruled in four conjoined test cases that all criminal prosecutions before temporary sheriffs after 20 May 1999 (the date when the Lord Advocate became a member of the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act 1998, s 44(1)(c) and so subject to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights) were invalid unless the accused could be said to have waived their right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal under Art 6(1) of the Convention.  Failure of the accused in such prosecutions to take the Convention point did not amount to a tacit waiver of the right.  See Millar v Dickson, The Times July 27 2001.  Prosecutions before temporary sheriffs were held to be in breach of Art 6(1) on 11 November 1999 in Starrs v Ruxton 2000 JC 208 (see below, No 70).  It is thought that over 9,000 trials were held before temporary sheriffs between 20 May and 11 November 1999, and 121 appeals had been lodged up to the time of the test cases.