(356) SUPREME COURT ON ICE (THIN OR THICK? – UNCLEAR)
SUPREME COURT ON ICE (THIN OR THICK? – UNCLEAR)
Lord Falconer denied the Times story (published on 17 May 2004) that the Supreme Court plans are to be ‘put on ice for up to ten years’ following the Government’s failure to find a suitable new building to accommodate the court (see No 355). No amendment to the Constitutional Reform Bill, suspending the creation of the Supreme Court until appropriate accommodation is found, has yet emerged; but nor has a building. In any event, the Bill will not be amended until the Special Committee of the House of Lords has concluded its deliberations. The Committee has taken evidence from a number of Scottish voices, including Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Lord Hope of Craighead, the Lord President Lord Cullen of Whitekirk, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland. Uncorrected transcripts of this oral evidence are available at the Committee’s website: (http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/reformbill.cfm).
Meantime the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament published its report on the Bill on 27 May 2004 (accessible at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/justice2/reports/j2r04-04-01.htm ). The Committee supported the creation of a Supreme Court in place of the House of Lords and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (dissentients Annabel Goldie and Nicola Sturgeon), exercising the present jurisdiction of the two bodies (dissentient Nicola Sturgeon), with no requirement of leave to appeal for Scots cases, but subject to a specific statutory guarantee that any English decision would not be determinative of Scots law. The Committee thought that statute should provide for a majority of Scots judges normally in Scottish appeals. It also asked for more thought on funding issues and Scottish financial contributions, but was content with the proposed judicial appointments system. The Scottish Parliament should bring forward a legislative guarantee of judicial independence in Scotland to match that in the Constitutional Reform Bill for England & Wales.