Roy Martin QC stepped down as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, but like his predecessor, not to go on the Bench (see No 391). The Faculty missed an opportunity to break through the glass ceiling when it elected Richard Keen QC to be Mr Martin’s successor, rather than Vice-Dean Valerie Stacey QC. For more on Mr Keen, currently representing the family of the late French chauffeur Henri Paul at the London inquest into the 1997 death of Princess Diana, see the Faculty website at http://www.advocates.org.uk/news/news_20071128_new_dean.html.
In another interesting development at the Faculty, Michael Jones QC left the bar in December to head up a new Dispute Resolution Department at leading Edinburgh solicitors’ firm Simpson & Marwick. Mr Jones becomes a senior partner within the firm.
The Scottish Government has decided to bring a Bill before the Scottish Parliament to reverse the House of Lords decision that pleural plaques do not constitute actionable damage in negligence (see previously No 691 and http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2007/11/29102156 for the relevant press release dated 29 November 2007). When enacted, the measure will have retrospective effect from the date of the House of Lords judgment (17 October). This will make Scots law different from that of England & Wales, where the UK Government has decided to take no such action. It is not yet clear when the Bill will be put to the Scottish Parliament. Scots Law News noted with interest a BBC interview with Frank Maguire, solicitor for many of the prospective beneficiaries of the Scottish Government’s decision, in which he conceded that the damages any individual would get as a result would not be high; his own guesstimate of £6,000-£10,000 seemed a little high to this listener, given that what is being compensated is a state of anxiety and depression on which per se, traditionally, the law of delict has placed little if any value. The precedents before the House of Lords decision, in which sometimes recovery was allowed in respect of pleural plaques, generally involved other elements beyond the plaques and anxiety, and so may not provide the best guide to the likely tariff after the Bill is passed.
On 29 November 2007 the Electoral Commission announced that it would taking forward the recommendations made in the Gould Report on the Scottish elections fiasco of May 2007 (see previously Nos 644, 692; and also http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media-centre/newsreleasecorporate.cfm/news/686 for the Commission’s press release). In particular the Commission agrees that voter interests should always come first in planning election management. But it will mull over a little longer Gould’s recommendation that control of elections in Scotland be transferred in toto from Westminster to Holyrood – is the Commission being nobbled, wonders Scots Law News.