(134)  Human rights and Scots law

The decision in A v Scottish Ministers 2000 SC 1, holding the very first statute passed by the Scottish Parliament, the Mental Health (Public Safety and Appeals)(Scotland) Act 1999, to have been within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and not contrary to art 5 of the ECHR, was affirmed on 15 October 2001 by the Privy Council (see 2001 SLT 1331).  In S v Miller 2001 SLT 141; 2001 SLT 1304, the First Division held that the unavailability of legal aid to the child in children’s hearing proceedings infringed the right to a fair trial but decided not to make a declaration of incompatibility with respect to the relevant legislation (the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986), because it already gave the Scottish Ministers power to deal with the breach and it was their intention to do so.

(133)  Microsoft v Front Page Design (trade marks)

In September 2001 a design company based in Glasgow succeeded in registering as its trade mark its name Front Page Design.  In doing so, the company overcame an opposition from Microsoft, which argued in the Trade Marks Registry that the proposed mark infringed the trade mark of its Front Page website design software. The Registry found that Front Page Design had established its right to use the name in connection with design work, including website design, before the Microsoft software was introduced in the UK.  Proceedings had lasted for five years. On the relevant law, see Trade Marks Act 1994 ss 5, 6, 37-41.

(131)  War crimes: the Gecas case

On 4 September 2001 the Scottish Executive announced that Mr Antonas Gecas (85) of Edinburgh would not be extradited to Lithuania to face charges of having participated in the killing of over 30,000 civilians, mostly Jews, in Lithuania and Belarus during the Nazi occupation of those territories in the Second World War (see below, Nos 107 and 127). Mr Gecas was then a lieutenant or platoon commander in the 12th police battalion. He moved to Edinburgh in 1947 and worked thereafter as a National Coal Board engineer and guest house owner. The Executive statement said that medical opinions all indicate that Anton Gecas is not fit to attend court or understand the legal proceedings against him. Mr Gecas had been hospitalised following two strokes in May 2001. Representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, which tracks down Nazi war criminals to have them brought to justice, were fiercely critical of the Executive decision. Mr Gecas died in hospital on 11 September. A repesentative of the Wiesenthal Centre said that the last thing someone like Gecas dese rved is to die in his bed in a hospital in Edinburgh. He deserved to die in prison where he should have been for the past 50 years. It is a badge of shame for the people in Scotland and England who allowed him to live the rest of his life in luxury in the West.

(130)  Human rights and planning law

The decision of the Lord Ordinary in County Properties Ltd v The Scottish Ministers 2000 SLT 965 (below, No 89) was reversed by an Extra Division on 16 August 2001 (2001 GWD 26-1068). The court took into account the criticisms of the Lord Ordinary’s reasoning made by the House of Lords in the Alconbury case ([2001] 2 WLR 1389, see below No 109). It accepted that in the Alconbury case the House of Lords had considered as a matter of principle whether the planning or other statutory procedures in question entailed an incompatibility with Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights. While the Reporter to a planning inquiry on his own might not be an independent and impartial tribunal for the purposes of Article 6(1) , the totality of planning procedures, including the powers of the court to deal with genuinely justiciable issues arising in what were otherwise administrative procedures were sufficient to e nsure compatibility.