Senators training week: lessons from Canada

The Senators of the College of Justice took a week out of court business at the beginning of June 2010 to undergo their first training week under the auspices of the Judicial Studies Committee.

Your correspondent had the rather terrifying experience of lecturing the assembled Senators in the main hall of the Mackenzie Building (in the Old Assembly Close just off Edinburgh’s High Street), and then supervising the break-out groups within which they discussed a set of case-studies also provided by your correspondent (topic privacy).  The judges were of course excellent and attentive students, and mostly their laughter occurred when the speaker intended it.

A feature of the week was the participation of a group of judges from the Canadian equivalent of the Judicial Studies Committee, the National Judicial Institute, a world leader in judicial training.  By all accounts the session on evidence led by the Canadians was the highlight of the programme.  A concordat between the JSC and the NJI was signed at the week’s closing dinner in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle, with speeches by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, Lord President Hamilton (as now head of the Scottish court system the delivery of judicial training is his responsibility), and (by video and the best of the three) the impressive Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.