THE DEPUTY: Search is on for a new Lord Justice Clerk as First Minister convenes selection panel to appoint Scotland’s second most powerful judge

05 Feb

Legal figures begin secret selection process for new Lord Justice Clerk. AMID the turmoil caused by the sudden retirement in May 2015 of Lord Brian Gill from the post of Lord President – and the subsequent elevation of his deputy – Lord Carloway to the top judicial post, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to initiate another recruitment round to fill the post of Scotland’s second most senior judge – the position of Lord Justice Clerk.

A two week window for applications for the number two judicial role in Scotland –  which comes with a salary of £213,125 a year – was announced late last month by the Scottish Government – with a closing date of this Sunday, 7 February 2016.

The Lord Justice Clerk is the second most senior judge in Scotland and has a particular role in relation to the criminal justice system. In addition to its judicial duties, the office carries with it certain statutory duties relative to the provision of support to the Lord President in the discharge of his responsibilities as Head of the Judiciary.

The office brings with it responsibilities for providing leadership to the judiciary, not only in supporting the Lord President but also, separately, as a member and deputy chair of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), in providing leadership to the staff of the SCTS.

The Lord Justice Clerk is also chair of the Scottish Sentencing Council.

Sitting on the latest behind-closed-doors selection panel are: The Rt Hon Lord Carloway – Lord President, Sir Muir Russell – Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, Alison Mitchell – Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, The Hon Lady Stacey – Senator of the College of Justice.

A sift of applications for the post of Lord justice Clerk will take place on Thursday 11 February 2016 in order to provide a short list of candidates for interview. Invitations to interview will be issued by Friday 12 February 2016. The interviews will take place on 29 February 2016 in central Edinburgh, at a venue to be confirmed.

The selection panel will make recommendations to the First Minister by early March, who then makes her nomination to the Prime Minister after statutory consultation with the Lord President. The Prime Minister recommends a name for the new Lord Justice Clerk to Her Majesty, but may not recommend anybody who has not been nominated by the First Minister.

Eligibility for appointment as Lord Justice Clerk is the same as that for a Judge of the Court of Session. Serving judges of the Court of Session are eligible for appointment as Lord Justice Clerk.

Article xix of the Union with England Act 1707 and section 20A of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 provide that:  sheriffs principal and sheriffs who have held continuous office for at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment;  solicitors who have had rights of audience in both the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary for a continuous period of at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment; advocates of 5 years standing; and Writers to the Signet of 10 years standing who have passed an examination in civil law set by the Faculty of Advocates 2 years before appointment – are eligible to apply for the office of judge of the Court of Session and therefore appointment as Lord Justice Clerk.

The Lord Justice Clerk must be acknowledged by the judiciary and the legal profession to be among the most able lawyers of his or her generation. The holder of the office must have the capacity to command public confidence in the justice system and the confidence and respect of judicial colleagues, and to develop positive and productive relationships with judicial colleagues and others in the justice system. He or she must have the necessary knowledge, experience and judgement to be able to give authoritative opinions in the most complex and important cases both in civil appeals and in criminal cases at first instance and on appeal. Successful candidates will therefore have to demonstrate that they meet the criteria listed below to an appropriately high level

Personal Qualities and criteria for appointment: Legal and Judicial: A candidate shall: be an outstanding lawyer in the main areas of law that come to be determined in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary; possess a thorough understanding of the theory and principles on which the law is based, its practical application and an ability to analyse and explore legal problems creatively and imaginatively; be able to set out complex legal issues clearly and succinctly, both orally and in writing, and to explain the reasoned basis for any decision; and be aware of the areas in which the law is developing and demonstrate a desire to master new and unfamiliar areas.

Leadership and Management: A candidate shall be able to: provide leadership and strategic direction across the full range of management issues, including through appropriate delegation, to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the courts and tribunals service across Scotland in support of the Lord President; demonstrate an inclusive management style which builds consensus and facilitates the management of change; set and promote the highest standards of judicial behaviour in and out of court; inspire confidence, command respect and gain commitment from others; and ensure that decisions are taken and implemented to deliver an effective and efficient courts and tribunals service across Scotland.

Personal Qualities: A candidate should be able to demonstrate: Integrity, independence of mind, moral courage and the ability to command respect; Social awareness and understanding of the contemporary world; Resilience; Sound temperament, consideration and courtesy; Excellent communications skills which support the representational role on behalf of the SCTS; Fairness, impartiality and a responsible attitude.


Diary of Injustice previously reported on the recruitment round for the role of Lord President,and featured reports from the Scottish Sun newspaper on the hunt for a new top judge, here: TO PLAY THE PRESIDENT: Hunt begins for Scotland’s next top judge & Lord President of the Court of Session.

The position of Scotland’s top judge became vacant after Lord Brian Gill – who served a short term as Lord President from 2012-2015 unexpectedly walked out of the top judicial post in May 2015 – giving only 30 days notice he intended to quit.

Lord Carloway was appointed to replace Lord Gill, in late December 2015, reported here: TOP JUDGE OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE: Lord Carloway appointed as Scotland’s Lord President & Lord Justice General of the Court of Session.

The elevation of the Lord Justice Clerk to the top job of Lord President came after recommendations were received from a secretive panel constituted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

The behind-closed-doors panel, comprising of Sir Muir Russell & Mrs Deirdre Fulton from the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, Lord Reed of the UK Supreme Court and Court of Session judge Lady Dorrian – began a search in July for a new top judge in July 2015, with orders to recommend a name to the First Minister by 30 October 2015.

Lord Carloway was officially installed as Lord President in a ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 8 January 2016, reported here: NEW JUDGE ON THE BLOCK: Lord Carloway installed as Lord Justice General & Lord President of the Court of Session.


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