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Justice Delayed ? Not when it comes to expenses claims as high earning Scots judges rake in at least £78K in ‘travel’ claims

30 Aug

Court of Session Parliament HouseScotland’s top judges at the Court of Session claimed £78K expenses on top of huge salaries. EXPENSES CLAIMS of Scotland’s already high earning 34 judges at the country’s highest court, the Court of Session in Edinburgh topped a whopping ‘recorded’ sum of £78,988 in the last financial year, according to details released by the Scottish Government in response to a Freedom of Information request, continuing my reporting on the costs of Scotland’s justice system, which I initially covered here : The costs of Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ Justice System : Court of Session judges paid £6.1 million as litigants struggle to obtain hearing dates

However, it transpires the amount claimed by judges may be higher as the Scottish Government, who were & still are responsible for paying judges salaries, ranging from a mere £172,753.00 for ‘outer house judges’ to the Lord President’s staggering £214,165.00 now admit there were no details held of the individual expenses claims for judges on a central database as the accounts system only recorded the totals charged against headings such as Travel and Subsistence.

The total Travel & Subsistence claims from Scotland’s 34 Senators of the College of Justice for the financial year 2009-10 was £78,988 of which, £16,299 was for Inner House judges, and the remaining £62,689 was for Outer House. The Scottish Government said the only other expenses they would record in the accounts are the Wig & Gown allowance, a one-off payment when a new judge is appointed. It transpired no such payments were made during 2009-10.

To the figures into perspective against the salaries of Scotland’s Court of Session judges :

Inner House

First Division

Lord Hamilton, the Lord President (Civil) and the Lord Justice General receives £214,165.00 p.a. Lord Kingarth, Lord Eassie, Lord Reed & Lord Hardie each receive £196,707.00 p.a.

Second Division

Lord Gill, Lord Justice Clerk receives £206,857.00 p.a. Lord Osborne , Lady Paton, Lord Carloway, Lord Clarke & Lord Mackay of Drumadoon each receive £196,707.00 p.a.

Outer House (all 23 judges receive £172,753.00 p.a.)

Lord Bonomy, Lord Menzies, Lord Drummond Young, Lord Emslie, Lady Smith, Lord Brodie, Lord Bracadale, Lady Dorrian, Lord Hodge, Lord Glennie, Lord Kinclaven, Lord Turnbull, Lady Clark of Calton, Lord Brailsford, Lord Uist, Lord Malcolm, Lord Matthews, Lord Woolman, Lord Pentland, Lord Bannatyne, Lady Stacey, Lord Tyre, & Lord Doherty

Lord Hamilton judicialScotland’s Lord President Lord Hamilton heads the new Scottish Court Service Corporate Body, a duty of which will be to keep an eye on expenses. The disclosure from the Scottish Government went onto state that although Scottish Government remains responsible for paying judges salaries, from 1 April 2010 responsibility for paying all other judicial expenses transferred to the Judicial Office as part of the new Scottish Court Service corporate body, established following implementation of the Judiciary & Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

The Lord President, Lord Hamilton is of course, the head of the new Scottish Court Service corporate body, which I reported on earlier this year, here : Scottish Courts Service becomes an ‘arm’s length’ independent quango led by Lord President & corporate board

While the Scottish Government apparently did not hold details of judges individual expenses claims, the situation in England & Wales is markedly different, with all judicial expenses being registered, where ‘the expenses claims of High Court Judges and above are recorded in such a way that they can be attributed to individual judges and published at regular intervals’.

Details of the English judicial expenses system and figures can be found here : Judicial Expenses for England & Wales, and as expenses are now to be ‘held centrally’ by the new Judicial Office, it is to be hoped a similar air of transparency regarding judicial expenses claims will prevail in Scotland, with all expenses details being published online, in keeping with the rest of the UK.

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