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COPY MINISTER: ‘Copied’ content from ex Minister sent by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to Holyrood MSPs – Public must rely on judges judging judges for transparency, Scottish Government will not create register of judges’ interests

Judges should judge judges – Minister. SCOTLAND’S Justice Secretary – Humza Yousaf – has told Holyrood’s Justice Committee that judges should be allowed to judge themselves, and the public must rely on judicial oaths & ethics – written and approved by the judiciary – instead of transparency in courts.

The Justice Secretary’s letter of 3 April to Holyrood MSPs, which was released only late last week – also states the Scottish Government willnot create a register of judicial interests in response to the widely supported Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

However, it has emerged Humza Yousaf’s letter of April 2019 – is almost a duplicate of a letter sent in April 2014 by Kenny MacAskill during his time as Justice Secretary.

The recent letter from Mr Yousaf to Margaret Mitchel MSP – Convener of the Justice Committee, effectively re-states the Scottish Government’s refusal to create a register of judges’ interests.

Mr Yousaf also claims in his letter that “no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.”

However, recent submissions to the Justice Committee including accounts of serving Scottish judges swearing dual oaths for high earning judicial posts in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and other Gulf States point to substantial new evidence submitted to MSPs, backing up the need for a full register of judicial interests.

Clerks to the Justice Committee were quizzed on the content of Mr Yousaf’s claims in relation to no new evidence.

In response, a Justice Committee clerk told the petitioner: “Your submission was publicly available to the Scottish Government to refer to, before the Cabinet Secretary provided the letter dated 3 April”

It has also emerged the Lord President – Lord Carloway, and others including the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, Crown Office and others have refused to engage with the Justice Committee’s call for views on creating a register of judges’ interests.

A clerk for the Justice Committee informed the petitioner: “Before the Committee last considered your petition on 5 February, clerks approached those who have previously given evidence to the Public Petitions Committee to ask if they had anything to add to their previous submissions.”

“We approached the Lord President, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. Only the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service responded, stating that they had nothing to add”

Mr Yousaf’s letter of 3 April 2019 to the Justice Committee reads as follows:

Thank you for your letter of 20 February seeking my views on the above petition and whether it remains the Scottish Government’s position that a register should not be introduced.

I have given consideration to the matter and I don’t think it is necessary to establish a register of interests. I share the views of both of my predecessors that there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary.

These safeguards are the judicial oath, the statement of principles of judicial ethics and the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 which concern complaints about the judiciary and judicial conduct.

I note that no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.

However, the “the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 which concern complaints about the judiciary and judicial conduct” – which include the post of Judicial Complaints Reviewer – remain unchanged since Scotland’s first JCR – Moi Ali gave evidence to the Public Petitions  Committee during 2013.

And, during her time as Judicial Complaints Reviewer – Moi Ali requested increated powers from the Scottish Government – to give the office of JCR a more formidable and independent oversight role on complaints against judges – only to be turned down by the then Justice Secretary – Kenny MacAskill.

The request by Moi Ali to increase powers of the Judicial Complaints Reviewer ws reported here: Scottish Government urged to give more powers to Judicial Complaints Reviewer as MSPs hear lack of judicial scrutiny undermines public confidence in justice system

An earlier letter of 22 April 2014 from Kenny MacAskill – who was Justice Secretary from 17 May 2007 until ‘stepping down’ sacked from the post on 21 November 2014 – to David Stewart MSP – then Convener of the Public Petitions Committee reads as follows:

Thank you for your letter of 6 March 2014 regarding the above Public Petition. I apologise for the delay in responding.

You ask whether the Scottish Government will review its position on whether members of the judiciary ought to register their interests. I note the evidence the Committee has gathered on this issue and, in particular, the arguments presented by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) that a register of interests would increase transparency and public trust in the judiciary.

The JCR considers that there is merit in a register of interests for members of the judiciary. I do not think it necessary to establish such a register. I continue to be of the view that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary.

These have been set out in previous correspondence and comprise the judicial oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the rules made under the 2008 Act. I do not consider that the case has been made that these existing safeguards are not effective.

It is of note, that after being kicked from the post of Justice Secretary – Kenny MacAskill ended up on the same Public Petitions Committee which was considering the petition calling for a register of judicial interests.

And, during a hearing of the Petitions Committee on 1 December 2015 – MacAskill – by now devoid of Ministerial rank – suggested calling the new Lord President – who was yet to be publicly identified at the time due to the appointments process – but was known to be Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland)

The post of Lord President – with a salary of £220K per year – became vacant after Lord Brian Gill unexpectedly walked out of the top judicial post in May 2015 – giving only 30 days notice he intended to quit.

The 1 December 2015 hearing was reported in more detail here : EVIDENCE, M’LORD: Scotland’s next top judge to be asked to give evidence in Scottish Parliament’s probe on secretive world of undeclared judicial wealth, interests & judges’ links to big business

Video footage of Mr MacAskill at the Public Petitions Committee in that meeting can be found here:

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Judges Public Petitions Committee Holyrood 1 Dec 2015

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458) 1 December 2015

The Convener: Our next petition is PE1458, by Peter Cherbi, on the creation of a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. Members have a note on the committee’s previous consideration of the petition and the submissions from the petitioner.

Do members have any comments?

Kenny MacAskill: We have heard from the previous Lord President and I think that we should hear from the new Lord President, whoever he is likely to be—I do not think that there is a “she” on the shortlist. That appointment is likely to be made in the next week or so, so there is still time for him to appear before us.

The Convener: In that case, we will write to the new Lord President, as we said that we would.

Decision: The Committee agreed to write to the new Lord President once appointed.

PETITION – A REGISTER OF JUDGES’ INTERESTS

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee are currently investigating calls for a probe of Judicial Recusals, as part of their work on considering Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee and Justice Committee work in  relation to creating a Register of Judges’ Interests – can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

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RECUSAL REGISTER: Senators, Judges, Sheriffs & Tribunal members now declare more recusal detail in Conflict of Interest Register – as Holyrood Justice Committee probe petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests

Judges’ conflicts of interest declared. SCOTLAND’S judiciary leads the rest of the United Kingdom in one area of transparency – the publication of Judicial ‘Recusals’ – the term used to describe when a judge or tribunal member has a conflict of interest and must stand aside from hearing a case.

Currently, around one hundred and seventy five recusals of judges and tribunal members have been recorded in the Register of Recusals – which is kept up to date by the Judiciary of Scotland here: Judicial Recusals – Judiciary of Scotland

The Register of Recusals came into being – albeit grudgingly – after Scotland’s now former top judge Lord Brian Gill – held an unprecedented private meeting with Committee Conveners during early 2014.

Gill created the Register of Recusals – as a response to growing calls for MSPs to press ahead with a petition calling for all judges to declare their interests in a publicly available register – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

However, later in the same year, top judge Lord Brian Gill was forced to recuse himself from a case in which his own son – Advocate Brian Gill – represented one of the parties involved in an action – the details of which, and identities of the parties involved, were kept secret from media enquiries at the time in 2014.

Only recently, with again – grudging reforms to the Recusals Register, enacted only after requests from MSPs and direct discussions between the Judicial Interests petitioner and the Judicial Office itself, do we now know the identities of litigants, case references and extra details now published in the Recusals Register.

Whatever was so secret about publishing the fact the Lord President’s son represented a party in Belhaven Brewery v Assessor for Ayrshire XA 72/14 – causing the recusal of his father Lord Brian Gill from the bench, is still to be adequately explained – but we now know who were involved, just – not the ‘why’.

However, despite recent promises from the Judicial Office that Justices of the Peace – numbering well over 400 – were to be included in the Regster of Recisals – there are, strangely and without explanation, no references whatsoever to one single Justice of the Peace being the subject of a recusal.

Furthermore when enquiries were made of the Judicial Office to reveal more detailsof the JPs, all communications from the Head of Governance stopped after it was queried why no JPs had recused – sparking another mystery to be solved.

The lack of recusals in relation to Justices of the Peace was reported in more detail here : THE UNRECUSED: Mystery as 450 Justices of the Peace fail to register one single recusal in a full year after conflict of interest rules change for Scotland’s secretive army of lay magistrates

Additionally – and worryingly for those who prefer honesty with their judiciary – there is not a single mention of any of the judges who were forced to stand aside in the hearings relating to a multi million pound damages claim against the Lord Advocate and Scotland’s Chief ConstableA295/16 David Whitehouse (represented by Urquharts) v Liam Murphy &c (represented by Ledingham Chambers for SGLD – Scottish Government Legal Directorate)

The case related to legal action taken by former Rangers Administrator David Whitehouse – for wrongful arrest and financial damages against Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland.

A media investigation revelaed the case was incredibly scheduled to be heard by the Lord Advocate’s wife – Lady Sarah Wolffe – who is a judge in the Court of Session.

The case was reported in more detail here: WOLFFE COURT: Lord Advocate James Wolffe and his judge wife at centre of £9million damages claim – Questions remain why Lady Wolffe avoided recusal during emergency judge swap on court case against her own husband

It then emerged a series of judge swapping on the case, saw hearings passed from Lady Sarah Wolffe, to Lady Morag Wise, then Lord Paul Arthurson – and then to a FOURTH judge – Lord Sidney Neil Brailsford.

Yet, despite the blatant conflicts of interest in relation to the Lord Advocate’s own wife who was set to hear the case – there is – importantly – not one mention or reference, even a backdated note, within the Register of Recusals – to explain why, eventually – Lady Wolffe had to step aside from the case yet failed to issue a proper recusal for doing so.

Bizarrely, the case ultimately fell to be heard by Lord Malcolm – made famous after the judge – who’s real name is Colin Campbell QC – heard a case up to eight times where his son represented the defenders – yet saying nothing in court.

Another case which revealed significant problems with how the Judicial Office kept records of judicial recusals was that of an instance involving Lord Bracadale – where, only after media enquiries to the Judicial Office Press Chief, was it admitted a case in which Lord Bracadale had stepped aside from hearing, was not recorded in the Register of  Recusals.

After admitting the ‘mistake’ of failing to record the recusal by Lord Bracadale, clerks for the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service then silently updated the Recusals Register, a year later, and without any note that the recusal had been amended after the ‘mistake’ had been investigated by the media.

The Bracadale recusal issue was reported in greater detail here: RECUSALS UNLIMITED: Doubts over credibility of register of judges’ recusals – as Judicial Office admit court clerks failed to add details of senior judges recusals – then silently altered records a year later.

It is worth noting, Lord Carloway was asked questions about the failure to record Lord Bracadale’s recusal, during the Lord President’s evidence hearing with the Public Petitions Committee in July 2017.

Lord Carloway’s could not offer a satisfactory response, and it is worth noting the Head of Judicial Communications resigned her post during queries into why the Bracadale recusal had been concealed from the publicly available Register of Recusals.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee are currently investigating calls for a probe of Judicial Recusals, as part of their work on considering Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee and Justice Committee work in  relation to creating a Register of Judges’ Interests – can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

The current list of Judicial Recusals as of the date of publication of this article lists the following members of thejudiciary, court locations, case references, and reaons for their recusal due to a conflict of interest:

Judicial Recusals 2014

DATE COURT & TYPE OF ACTION JUDGE CASE NAME & REF MOTION BY & REASON
24/03/2014 Livingston Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Edington A v B* Defender; Sheriff drew to the parties’ attention a possible difficulty, namely the wife of one of the other resident Sheriffs was the author of a report contained with the proces s . T h e Sheriff asked parties if they wished him to recuse himself. The defenders, having considered the issue, made a motion for the Sheriff to recuse himself, which he then did.
08/04/2014 Forfar Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Veal PF v Richard Hughes SCS/2013/148273 Ex proprio motu**; Sheriff personally known to a witness
10/04/2014 Selkirk Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Paterson MacDonald v Dickson PBL A11/13 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had acted for a client in a previous dispute against the Pursuer
23/04/2014 High Court of Justiciary (Appeal) Lady Wise Barry Hughes v Her Majesty’s Advocate H CA/2014-001480- XC Ex proprio motu; Senator had previously acted for a relative of accused
16/04/2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Cathcart HMA v Michael J J Houston GLW 2013/013251; GLW2013/015913; GLW 2014/003566 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to the a witness
13/04/2014 Haddington Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Braid C v D* Ex p rop rio motu; Sheriff known to pursuer’s family
14/05/2014 High Court of Justiciary (Criminal) Temporary Judge MacIver Mateusz Zborowski v Procurator Fiscal, Edinburgh HCA/2014­002089/XT Ex proprio motu; Conflict of interest
20/05/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Matthews E v F* Ex p ro p ri o motu; Senator personally known to a witness
19/06/2014 Dingwall Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff N McPartlin PF v Carl J Wheatley SCS/2013-110134 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff presided over a trial involving the accused, where the issue to which the instant case relates was spoken to by a witness
20/06/2014 Elgin Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Raeburn QC PF Elgin v Alistair Simpson

SCS/2014-011055

Ex proprio motu; Accused appeared before the Sheriff as a wi tn e ss in a recent trial relating to the same incident.
24/06/2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff P V Crozier HMA v Paul Daniels GLW 2014 – 007144 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to proprietor of premises libelled in the charge.
26/06/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Gill Belhaven Brewery v Assessor for Ayrshire XA 72/14 Ex proprio motu; Relative of Senator acts for the respondent
27/08/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Brailsford G v H* Ex proprio motu; Senator personally known to husband of th e p u rs u e r
28/08/2014 Oban Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff W D Small Etonella Christlieb A22/14 & A23/14 Ex p ro p ri o m otu ; S heriff personally known to a party.
28/08/2014 Oban Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff W D Small PF v Etonella Christlieb OBN2014-000138 Ex proprio motu; Personally known to a party of the action
22/10/2014 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Cowan PF v George Mutch SCS/2013/-110352 Defender; Sheriff drew to parties’ attention that she was a member of the RSPB before commencement of a trial as the case involved an investigation carried out by the RSPB and many witnesses were RSPB officers. She invited parties to consider whether she should take the trial. The defenders, having considered the issue, made a motion for the Sheriff to recuse herself, which she then did.
08/12/2014 Alloa Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff D Mackie I v J* Ex proprio motu; Contemporaneous and overlapping proceedings comprising an appeal and a referral from the children’s hearing relating to children from the same family.
16/12/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lady Clark of Calton Petition: Thomas Orr & another for Order Under Companies Act

P1769/08

Ex proprio motu; Senator personally known to parties of the action.
 

Judicial Recusals 2014

DATE COURT & TYPE OF ACTION JUDGE CASE NAME & REF MOTION BY & REASON
24/03/2014 Livingston Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Edington A v B* Defender; Sheriff drew to the parties’ attention a possible difficulty, namely the wife of one of the other resident Sheriffs was the author of a report contained with the proces s . T h e Sheriff asked parties if they wished him to recuse himself. The defenders, having considered the issue, made a motion for the Sheriff to recuse himself, which he then did.
08/04/2014 Forfar Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Veal PF v Richard Hughes SCS/2013/148273 Ex proprio motu**; Sheriff personally known to a witness
10/04/2014 Selkirk Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Paterson MacDonald v Dickson PBL A11/13 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had acted for a client in a previous dispute against the Pursuer
23/04/2014 High Court of Justiciary (Appeal) Lady Wise Barry Hughes v Her Majesty’s Advocate H CA/2014-001480- XC Ex proprio motu; Senator had previously acted for a relative of accused
16/04/2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Cathcart HMA v Michael J J Houston GLW 2013/013251; GLW2013/015913; GLW 2014/003566 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to the a witness
13/04/2014 Haddington Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Braid C v D* Ex p rop rio motu; Sheriff known to pursuer’s family
14/05/2014 High Court of Justiciary (Criminal) Temporary Judge MacIver Mateusz Zborowski v Procurator Fiscal, Edinburgh HCA/2014­002089/XT Ex proprio motu; Conflict of interest
20/05/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Matthews E v F* Ex p ro p ri o motu; Senator personally known to a witness
19/06/2014 Dingwall Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff N McPartlin PF v Carl J Wheatley SCS/2013-110134 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff presided over a trial involving the accused, where the issue to which the instant case relates was spoken to by a witness
20/06/2014 Elgin Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Raeburn QC PF Elgin v Alistair Simpson

SCS/2014-011055

Ex proprio motu; Accused appeared before the Sheriff as a wi tn e ss in a recent trial relating to the same incident.
24/06/2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff P V Crozier HMA v Paul Daniels GLW 2014 – 007144 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to proprietor of premises libelled in the charge.
26/06/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Gill Belhaven Brewery v Assessor for Ayrshire XA 72/14 Ex proprio motu; Relative of Senator acts for the respondent
27/08/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lo rd Brailsford G v H* Ex proprio motu; Senator personally known to husband of th e p u rs u e r
28/08/2014 Oban Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff W D Small Etonella Christlieb A22/14 & A23/14 Ex p ro p ri o m otu ; S heriff personally known to a party.
28/08/2014 Oban Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff W D Small PF v Etonella Christlieb OBN2014-000138 Ex proprio motu; Personally known to a party of the action
22/10/2014 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Cowan PF v George Mutch SCS/2013/-110352 Defender; Sheriff drew to parties’ attention that she was a member of the RSPB before commencement of a trial as the case involved an investigation carried out by the RSPB and many witnesses were RSPB officers. She invited parties to consider whether she should take the trial. The defenders, having considered the issue, made a motion for the Sheriff to recuse herself, which she then did.
08/12/2014 Alloa Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff D Mackie I v J* Ex proprio motu; Contemporaneous and overlapping proceedings comprising an appeal and a referral from the children’s hearing relating to children from the same family.
16/12/2014 Court of Session (Civil) Lad y Clark of Calton Petition: Thomas Orr & another for Order Under Companies Act

P1769/08

Ex proprio motu; Senator personally known to parties of the action.
 

Judicial Recusals 2015

DATE COURT & TYPE OF ACTION JUDGE CASE NAME & REF MOTION BY & REASON
22/01/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Extradition) Sheriff Maciver Poland v Lukasz Kosowski **Ex proprio motu; Sheriff involved in case at earlier stage of proceedings
30/01/2015 Dumfries Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff G Jamieson Browns Hairdressers v Lauren Brown A82/13 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had previously dealt with the issue under dispute
06/02/2015 Greenock Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff I M Fleming Helen Humphreys v Norna Crabba B593/14 Ex proprio motu; Previous professional relationship between Sheriff’s former firm of solicitors and the defender
10/02/2015 High Court of Justiciary (Criminal) Lady Scott HMA v John McGregor IND2014-3553 Ex proprio motu; Due to a previous ruling made by the Senator in relation to a separate indictment against the accused
10/02/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Jones Steven Paterson v David MacLeod & ors PD812/13 Pursuer; Due to a previous finding by the Senator in relation an expert witness whose evidence is crucial to the pursuer’s case
13/03/2015 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff A Cowan HMA v John Paris Lyon SCS-2015/012519 Ex proprio motu; Accused known by the Sheriff as a reg u l a r observer of court proceedings from the public gallery
17/03/2015 Forfar Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Di Emidio PF v Kevin R Hutcheon SCS 2014-110800 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
18/03/2015 Lerwick Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Mann PF v William McCover Ler-2015/000142 Ex proprio motu; Circumstance may give rise to a suggestion of bias.
16/04/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Arthurson QC David H Kidd v Ronald G Clancy QC SC74/15 Ex proprio motu; Personally known to a party of the a ct i on
12/05/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Boyd of Duncansby K v L* Defender; Senator was Lord Advocate when a successful prosecution was brought against one of the respondents.
14/05/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Brailsford M v N* Defender; Senator previously involved in this case.
14/05/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff McColl David H Kidd v Ronald G Clancy QC SC74/15 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a party of the action
27/05/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff F Crowe CEC v James McMillan SD738/14 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had previously deal with a case in which the defender was a witness
29/05/2015 Glasgow Sheriff Court (FAI) Sheriff Principal Scott QC FAI – Glasgow Bin Lorry Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to one of the deceased
04/06/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Glennie Marshall Ronald v Duke of Buccleugh Ex proprio motu; Senator is an acquaintance of a party to the action
04/06/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Burns Marshall Ronald v Duke of Buccleugh Ex proprio motu; Senator previously acted as defence counsel in a criminal trial involving the pursuer
24/07/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff K M Maciver PF v James McKinstry Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a party in the case
11/08/2015 Banff Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Mann PF v James J Duguid SCS/2015-086256 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a party of the action, having previously acted on behalf of the family while in private practice
21/08/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Mackie GE Money Secured Loans Limited v Kenneth More & Shirely More B64/15 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff in dispute with pursuer
28/08/2015 Dundee Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Murray PF v Peter Whyte and Helen Williams SCS-2015/088655 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
03/09/2015 Dumbarton Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Turnbull O v P* Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had previously acted for client in a dispute against the pursuer
04/09/2015 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Mackie GE Money Home Lending Ltd v Susan Glancy B1078/15 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff involved in a dispute against a party to the action
15/09/2015 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Stirling PF v Graham Gordon SCS/2015008686 D efender; Sheriff previously considered and refused i s s u e s wh i ch the accused wished to revisit
01/10/2015 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff W. J. Taylor PF v Stanley Lawrence SCS/2014098082 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff was privy to certain i nfo rmati o n a b o ut the accused’s credibility
08/10/2015 Lanark Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Stewart PF v Laura Harrower LAN2015-000186 Ex proprio motu; Accused made complaints against the Sheriff and staff
12/10/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lady Clark of Calton Rehab Abdel-Rahman for Judicial Review P833/11 Ex proprio motu; Senator an acquaintance of a party to the action
20/10/2015 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Crozier HMA v Gilmour and Dean SCS-2015/103172 Ex p ropri o motu; S h eriff personally known to a director of the accused’s company
20/10/2015 Inverness Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Sutherland Church street investments v Julie Doughty SA296-15 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a party of the action
12/11/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Malcolm MacRoberts LLP v McCrindle Group Ltd CA133/12 Ex proprio motu; Senator acted as Senior Counsel for the defenders in a related action
18/11/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Boyd of Duncansby Petition: Hunt for Judicial Review Ex proprio motu; Relative of Senator involved in the action
26/11/2015 Inverness Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff G Fleetwood The MacKenzie Law Practice v John Holden SA163/15 Ex proprio motu; Personally known to a party of the action
27/11/2015 Court of Session (Civil) Lady Paton William Beggs v Scottish Information Commissioner XA105/14 Ex proprio motu after intimation to parties and a negative response from the Pursuer; Senator was on the bench for an appeal against conviction by the Pursuer
09/12/2015 Wick Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Berry PF v Martin McGowan 2015/00289 Ex proprio motu; Complainer personally known to the Sheriff
22/12/2015 Lanark Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Stewart Q v R[1] [2] Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to both parties of the action
 

Judicial Recusals 2016

DATE COURT & TYPE OF ACTION JUDGE CASE NAME & REF MOTION BY & REASON
26/01/2016 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Uist Andrew MacLeod v Graham Douglas & another A356/14 Pursuer; Senator dealt with same issue and same witnesses in a case being appealed
27/01/2016 Dumbarton Sheriff Court Sheriff Gallacher Daniel Macaulay v Robert Whitton & Margaret Whitton SA653/15 **Ex proprio motu; Sheriff involved in previous proceedings
09/02/2016 Elgin Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Pasportnikov PF v Katie & Andrew O’Hare

SCS/2015-137949

Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over related case
10/02/2016 Elgin Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Pasportnikov PF v Scott Bate SCS2015- 137058 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over a recent criminal and civil case.
18/03/2016 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Ross S v T* Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over criminal matter involving appellant
18/03/2016 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff A Stirling Dandara Ltd

AB15009178/SCS – 2015 – 1552552

Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over civil matter involving accused
14/04/2016 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Braid PF v John Wyse SCS/2016-041402 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously dealt with the accused in a previous case.
25/04/2016 Ayr Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Montgomery Thomas Port and Catherine Port v Steven Easton and Easton Kitchens and Bathrooms A147/15 Joint motion; Sheriff previously acted for the defender as a solicitor
03/05/2016 Lanark Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff N C Stewart PF v Alexander Law Law/2015-000463 Ex proprio motu; Complainer previously represented by Sheriff’s husband
20/05/2016 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Bracadale Donal Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd CA132/11 On the pursuer’s motion in relation to the judge’s previous decision to refuse the pursuer’s appeal at a procedural hearing
23/05/2016 Forfar Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff P Di Emidio HMA v Alexander Sturrock SCS 2016-044654 Ex p ro p rio motu; Sheriff previously granted a search warra n t a n d i s be i n g ch a l l e n ged by the accused
13/06/2016 Glasgow Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff S Reid Norna Crabbe v Alexander Reid & Others A8111/07 P ursuer; Personally known to a witness
22/06/2016 Perth Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff David Clapham Commercial Legal Centre LLP v Cargo Bar Ltd SA5616 Ex proprio motu; Pursuer known to Sheriff
09/08/2016 Dunoon Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Thomas Ward Derke Rodger v Capercaille Books Limited A14/15 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
19/08/2016 Greenock Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Thomas Ward PF Greenock v Henry Kerr and Angela Deeney GRE-2016

000548/GR16001177

Ex proprio motu; Accused known to Sheriff from Sheriff’s time in private practice
23/08/2016 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Alison Stirling PF v Dandara LTD SCS2015155252- SCS2015101495 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff Stirling found the accused’s company liable in a civil matter
13/09/2016 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Pentland William Russell & others v John Morre and others A77/16 Joint motion; Senator previously acted for the first named defender
25/10/2016 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Brailsford HMA to appt admin re Mohammond Younas P1442/15 Appellant; A close relative is employed by one of the parties involved in the case
10/11/2016 Kilmarnock Sheriff Court (Criminal) Sheriff Foran PF v Stewart Daly KIL-2016-000635 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
17/11/2016 Dumfries Sheriff Court Sheriff G Jamieson Ronald Adams v Ronald Bell Dum-A62/16 Defender; Sheriff presided over a related civil proof in another case in which parties were witnesses.
18/11/2016 Court of Session (Civil) Lord Glennie Adebayo Aina for Leave to appeal a Decision of the Upper Tribunal XA99/16 Ex proprio motu; Earlier decision on a related issue might reasonable be though to influence any decision in the present case
30/11/2016 Perth Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff R McFarlane S Koronka

(Manufacturing) Ltd v Musgrave Generators Ltd A103/16

Ex proprio motu; Sheriff acted for the pursuers when p ractising as a solicitor
 

Judicial Recusals 2017

DATE COURT & TYPE OF ACTION JUDGE CASE NAME & REF MOTION BY & REASON
30/01/17 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Crowe Robert Wylie (EDI 2016 012008) **Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over criminal matter involving accused, which might reasonably be thought to influence any decision in the present case
13/02/17 Portree Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Taylor QC T v U[3] Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously dealt with a criminal case involving parties
23/02/17 Inverness Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Fleetwood Ashwin Bantwal v Vrishali Shenoy Ex proprio motu; Sheriff presided over a jury trial involving parties
29/03/17 Perth Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Wade QC Drysdale Motorcycles v Derek Annand & Edwin McLaren (SE9/15) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff, in her previous role as advocate depute, was heavily involved in preparing the prosecution of one of the parties in the action
06/04/17 Kilmarnock Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Foran Lynsey Henderson v NHS Ayrshire & Arran Health Board

(KIL-PD55-14)

Pursuer’s motion granted; A witness was a former client of the Sheriff in previous role in private practice
04/05/17 Elgin Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff

Pasportnikov

PF Elgin v Douglas Welsh (ELG2017-000441) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had previous knowledge of the parties through a Children’s Hearing matter
16/05/17 Banff Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Mann PF Banff v Kate Law (x2) (BAN-2016-172) (BA16000365) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to relatives of the accused
12/06/17 Glasgow Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Platt Lucy Bruce v Andrew Bruce (GLW-F619-14) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
04/08/17 Forfar Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Murray Dundee Joinery Limited v Mike Hall (FFR-SG157-17) Defender’s motion granted; Sheriff had acted on behalf of the Pursuer in a civil action against the prospective Lay Representative as a Defender prior to him being appointed as a Sheriff
14/08/17 Elgin Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Pasportnikov Ann Hawksley v Gordonstoun Schools Limited (ELG-A80-16) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff has previous knowledge of the parties
23/08/17 Kilmarnock Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff McFarlane V v W* Ex proprio motu; Sheriff has previous involvement with the parties
05/09/17 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Civil) Sheriff Tait W v X* Ex proprio motu; The outcome of previous proceedings involving one of the parties might reasonably be thought to influence any decision in the present case
10/10/17 Alloa Sheriff Court (Children’s Hearing) Sheriff Mackie Y v Z* Ex proprio motu; Appeal arises as a direct consequence of a decision of the same Sheriff
18/10/17 Aberdeen Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff McLaughlin Bosede Obe Oghughu (SCS/21017-080483) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over a trial involving the same accused and same witnesses.
23/10/17 Dumbarton Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Pender Promontoria v Colin & David Wilson Ex proprio motu; Personally known to a party in the action
30/10/17 Wick Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Berry Robert John Sutherland Ex proprio motu; Family personally known to Sheriff
14/12/17 Dundee Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Way HMA v Megan Sandeman (DUN2017-002839) Defence motion granted; Written material sent to the court for the Sheriff’s attention, also enclosed in a victim impact statement provided by the Crown, may reasonably have impugned the Sheriff’s impartiality
19/12/17 Wick Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Berry PF Wick v Ian Stuart Sinclair Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
*Parties anonymised due to sensitive nature of case **Of the judge’s own accord
DATE NAME OF JUDGE (AND COURT/TRIBUNAL) CASE NAME (AND/OR REF) MOTION BY & REASON
8/1/18 Sheriff Montgomery

(Ayr Sheriff Court)

James McColm v Meiqin McColm (F138/16) **Ex proprio motu; Knowledge of pursuer’s family background
19/1/18 Sheriff Fleetwood

(Inverness Sheriff Court)

Ashwin Bantwal v Vrishali Shenoy (INV-SM18-17) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously recused himself in another case involving the parties, having earlier presided over a jury trial involving parties
1/2/18 Lord Justice Clerk

(Court of Session)

Petition to the Nobile Officium by Derek Cooney (P115/17) Petitioner’s motion refused; no valid objection stated
6/2/18 Moira Clark

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

8212/SO63* Ex proprio motu;Personal conflict of interest
12/2/18 Sheriff A Brown

(Dundee Sheriff Court)

HMA v M Islam and S Smekramuddin (DUN2017-4074) Ex proprio motu;Witness known to Sheriff
23/2/18 Dr Ross Hamilton

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

8709/S063* Ex proprio motu; Patient known to the Medical Member, having treated a relative
27/2/18 Graham Harding

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/18/0148 Ex proprio motu; Party is a client of the tribunal member’s firm
6/3/18 Dr Ross Hamilton

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

7987/S1012b* Ex proprio motu; Previously provided second opinion on same patient
15/2/18 Linda Reid

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/17/0480 Ex proprio motu; Potential conflict of interest as the tribunal member has a professional relationship with certain partners and associates of the agents for one of the parties
20/2/18 Nicola Weir

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/18/0150 Ex proprio motu; One of the parties is the tribunal member’s family solicitor
28/2/18 Ian Campbell Matson

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

N/A Ex proprio motu; Work as locum at same hospital
7/3/18 Andrew Upton

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/18/0250* and CV/18/0251* Ex proprio motu; The tribunal member’s firm acts for the parent company of one of the parties
13/3/18 Dr James Deans

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

9142/S095* Ex proprio motu; Previously treated patient on compulsory basis
21/3/18 Sheriff Principal Lewis

(Sheriff Appeal Court)

Gabriel Politakis v RBS & Others Ex proprio motu; Previously presided in appeal involving appellant
23/3/18 Sheriff A Anwar

(Glasgow Sheriff Court)

GLW-F417-13 Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
3/4/18 Graham Harding

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PF/18/0233 Ex proprio motu; conflict of interest
9/4/18 Mark Andrew

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/18/0162 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member known to tenants involved in the case
9/4/18 Sheriff Fleetwood

(Inverness Sheriff Court)

PF v Jade Brown (INV 2017-1048) Joint motion granted; Sheriff was a longstanding agent of a key witness
17/4/18 Gillian Buchanan (Housing and Property Chamber) RP/16/0210 Ex proprio motu; Respondent has conmnection to member’s firm
2/4/18 Lady Paton

(Court of Session)

XA88/16 Motion by party litigant refused; no good reason for recusal
TBC Patricia Ann Pryce

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/16/0210 Ex proprio motu; Conflict
25/4/18 Gillian Buchanan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/18/0602 Ex proprio motu; Previously acted for landlord
27/4/18 Graham Harding

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RT/18/0586 Ex proprio motu; One of the parties a client of the firm the applicant works for
27/4/18 Gillian Buchanan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RT/18/0586 Ex proprio motu; Respondent known to applicant as client of Member’s firm
3/4/18 Sheriff Caldwell

(Falkirk Sheriff Court)

SCS/2018-035424 Sheriff heard evidence in a trial with same accused and witnesses
11/5/18 David Preston

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PF/17/0315 Ex proprio motu; factor known to applicant
11/5/18 Sheriff Fleetwood

(Inverness Sheriff Court)

A v B* Respondent’s motion granted; The sheriff, having previously made a Permancence Order in respect of the child, declined jurisdiction to hear the adoption proof
14/5/18 Ewan Miller

(Housing and Property) Chamber

CV/18/0981 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm acts for on eof the parties
14/5/18 Susan Napier

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PF/18/0240 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s worked for the housing association party when the development concerned was built
23/5/18 Elizabeth Currie

(Housing and Property Chamber)

CV/18/0599 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member works for the local authority and is responsible for landlord registration
23/5/18 Jacqui Taylor

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/18/1075 and  CV/18/1077 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm has acted for one of the parties
24/5/18 Jim Bauld

(Housing and Property Chember)

RP/18/0961 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm instructed by one the parties
29/5/18 Andrew Cowan

(Housing and Property Chember)

CV/18/1130 and EV/18/1127 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm acts for the applicant
29/5/18 Jim Bauld

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PF/18/0571 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm acts for the landlord
4/6/18 Jim Bauld

(Housing and Property Chamber)

LM/18/1073 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member’s firm acts for factor
5/6/18 Rory Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/18/1078 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member previously dealt with one of the parties
12/6/18 Sheriff Cook

(Edinburgh Sheriff Court)

PF v Josh Harkness Defence motion granted; Sheriff had presided over a trial involving same accused and complainer
11/7/18 Lord Brailsford

(Court of Session)

Margaret Paterson v SCCR  (P376/17) Ex proprio motu; Lord Brailsford was one of a three-judge panel who had refused the petitioner leave to appeal the criminal conviction at second sift. The reason for refusing leave was germaine to the challenge raised in the judicial review.
31/7/18 Helen Miller

(Additional Support Needs Tribunal)

AR/18/0006 Case indirectly involves the school attended by tribunal member’s son
27/7/18 Sheriff Ward

(Dunoon Sheriff Court)

PF v Gavin Murphy Defence motion refused; Sheriff previously dealt with a children’s social work referral in relation to the accused where the complainers were witnesses
2/8/18 Andrew Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PR/18/1159 Tribunal member’s firm acted for the landlord’s agents in separate matters
14/8/18 Andrew Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RA/18/1621 Potential conflic of interest
19/9/18 Sheriff Fleming

(Glasgow Sheriff Court)

National Westminster Bank Plc v Morag Horsey (GLW-B885-18) Ex proprio motu; prior professional conflict
19/9/18 Sheriff Hamilton QC

(Dumbarton Sheriff Court)

DBN-SG155-18 Amir Smoli v John Currie Ex proprio motu; Sheriff knows the pursuer
21/9/18 Carolyn Hirst

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/18/1740 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member has a conflict of interest, having worked as an independent consultant for one of the parties
28/9/18 Sheriff Dickson

(Tain Sheriff Court)

TAI-F43-13 Ex proprio motu; The Sheriff has knowledge of one of the parties in the conext of criminal proceedings
12/10/18 Alison Kelly

(Housing and Property Chamber)

CV/18/1659 and PR/18/1408 Ex proprio motu; Tribnual member knows the letting agent who is acting for the applicant
13/12/18 Temporary Judge Norman Ritchie QC

(Glasgow High Court)

HMA v Craig Tonnar (IND 2018/1312 Ex proprio motu; Material placed before the court may reasonably have impugned the judge’s decision on sentence.
13/12/18 Sheriff Berry

(Wick Sheriff Court)

PF v William Fernie Ex proprio motu; Accused is well known to the Sheriff
30/1/19 Suzanne Sinclair

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

08500/S063 Ex proprio motu; Psychiatrist who completed a medical report for a CTO application is the Tribunal member’s Doctor.
4/2/19 Suzanne Sinclair

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

08622/S050 Ex proprio motu; Appeal against a Short Term Detention Order made by a Doctor who was formerly the Tribunal member’s Doctor
6/2/19 Lady Wise

(Court of Session)

AD10/18 Ex proprio motu; The Lord Ordinary having heard Counsel at diet of proof that there was no opposition to the granting of the Petition and the natural parents were consenting, indicated that she was satisfied on the merits of the Petition. Subsequently however, the natural parents withdrew said consent and the matter required to proceed to proof. The Lord Ordinary indicated that as she had stated her view on the merits of the case she was not now in a position to hear the case.
8/2/19 Lord Bannatyne

(Court of Session)

Agilisys Ltd

v

CGI IT UK Ltd

(CA 55/17)

Defender’s motion granted; The Lord Ordinary, having made findings in respect of the credibility and reliability of some of the defender’s witnesses in the first proof, and being mindful of a real possibility of the perception of bias arising therefrom, recused himself from hearing the second proof, at which some of the same witnesses would again give evidence.
18/2/19 Sheriff Summers

(Aberdeen Sheriff

Court)

Blair Nimmo

v

Richard Dennis

(SQ60-18)

Ex proprio motu; Sheriff knows parties involved in the case
27/2/19 Sheriff Anwar

(Glasgow Sheriff

Court)

David Grier

v

Chief Constable,

Police Scotland

Pursuer’s motion granted; The sheriff, having previously intimated to parties that recusal may be necessary, declined jurisdiction, given that another sheriff at Glasgow was listed among the potential witnesses.
5/3/19 Rory Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

EV/18/3486

and

CV/18/3487

Ex proprio motu; case involves a former client of the Tribunal member.
7/3/19 Suzanne Sinclair

(Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland)

09471/S063 Ex proprio motu; Doctor who completed a medical report for a CTO application is the Tribunal member’s Doctor.
12/3/19 Simone Sweeney

(Housing and Property Chamber)

PF/18/2240 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member is an employee of one of the parties
19/3/19 Jim Bauld

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/19/0110 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member is an employee of the fim which acts for the letting agent party
20/3/19 Helen Forbes

(Housing and Property Chamber)

CV/19/0143 Ex proprio motu; Legal Member acts for the appplicant’s representative
27/3/19 Patricia Anne Pryce

(Housing and Property Chamber)

FTS/HPC/CV/19/0249 Member has conflict with party
2/4/19 Sheriff Thomas Ward

Dunoon Sheriff Court

John & Joanne Ingham v Damien & Sheila Brolly Sheriff Ward has heard evidence in a previous case in relation to the same parties, involving the same or similar issues.
4/4/19 Rory Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

RP/19/0381 Ex proprio motu; Tribunal member is employed by the Respondent representative
25/4/19 Andrew Cowan

(Housing and Property Chamber)

CV/19/0602 Ex proprio motu; Legal member has previously acted for the applicant
29/4/19 Sheriff Fleetwood

Inverness Sheriff Court

Caroline Brown

v Strathearn Stabling

SG2/19

Ex proprio motu; A person known to the sheriff has a financial interest in the outcome of the case

 

 

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JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee investigate approach to judges’ interests in other countries – MSPs say ‘Recusals register not comprehensive enough’ ‘Openness & transparency do not contradict independence of the judiciary’

Justice Committee continues probe on Judges’ interests. A SEVEN YEAR probe by two committees of the Scottish Parliament – on cross party supported proposal to create a Register of Judges’ Interests – has called for views on how other jurisdictions tackle both judicial recusals and methods of declarations of judicial interests.

During discussions between members of Holyrood’s Justice Committee on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary, MSPs expressed the view that openness and transaprency – which the register of judges’ interests petition seeks to create – does  not contradict the independence of the judiciary.

Daniel Johnson MSP stated: “As was the case when we considered the petition previously, I think that there are reasons to examine it. In everything that I say, I bear in mind our duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but I do not believe that openness and transparency contradict that.”

Another Justice Committee MSP also expressed views on the completeness of the current Register of Recusals – a register of conflicts of interest which was created by ex Lord President Brian Gill during April 2014 – in response to the petition.

John Finnie MSP said: “I fully endorse Daniel Johnson’s view, and particularly the comment about independence. However, there is an obvious tension here. There is a public expectation—it is not unreasonable, in my view—that there should be no conflicts of interest. Our papers refer to the recusal register, but that does not seem comprehensive enough to me.”

While no reference was made to new evidence submitted to the Justice Committee, documenting work by serving Scottish judges in the Gulf States, a full submission by the petitioner to the Committee can be read in the previous report on Justice Committee work on the petition, here: MSPs urged to take forward SEVEN year petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests as Holyrood Justice Committee handed evidence of Scottish Judges serving in Gulf states regimes known to abuse Human Rights

The lengthy Scottish Parliament probe on judicial interests has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, at least twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate and has since been taken over by Holyrood’s Justice Committee after a recommendation to take the issue forward from the Public Petitions Committee in March 2018.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support, backing in the media, and crucial support from two of Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewers – including Moi Ali

Moi Ali – who served as Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – appeared before the Public Petitions Committee in a hard hitting evidence session during September 2013,and gave full sypport to the proposals calling for the creation of a register of judicial interests.– reported here: Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life.

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Judges Scottish Parliament Justice Committee 5 Feb 2019

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell Central Scotland Scottish Conservatives) :  Agenda item 4 is consideration of two petitions. I refer members to paper 4, which is a note by the clerk, and paper 5, which is a private paper. Paragraph 5 of paper 4 provides the options that are available to the committee when it considers petitions.

The first petition that the committee will consider is PE1458, by Peter Cherbi, on a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament

“to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand’s Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.”

This is the committee’s third consideration of the petition. I refer members to annex A of paper 4, which details the response that was received from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. The committee is asked to consider what, if any, further action it wishes to undertake in relation to the petition. The options available include: keeping the petition open; keeping it open and taking additional action, such as writing to the cabinet secretary and/or others; or closing the petition. I seek members’ views.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab): As was the case when we considered the petition previously, I think that there are reasons to examine it. In everything that I say, I bear in mind our duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but I do not believe that openness and transparency contradict that. The Public Petitions Committee took evidence on the issue, but that was some time ago—I believe that it was in 2013—so I wonder whether the committee might want to pull together information regarding how other countries approach the issue. Given that we have a new Cabinet Secretary for Justice, we could perhaps also request his views on the matter.

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green): I fully endorse Daniel Johnson’s view, and particularly the comment about independence. However, there is an obvious tension here. There is a public expectation—it is not unreasonable, in my view—that there should be no conflicts of interest. Our papers refer to the recusal register, but that does not seem comprehensive enough to me. I agree with the proposal that we should find out about the approach in other countries, particularly New Zealand, as that would be helpful.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): I totally agree with Daniel Johnson and John Finnie. More information would be helpful. It is an important issue, and transparency has to be key.

Daniel Johnson: For information, I point out that the bill on the issue that was before the New Zealand Parliament was either withdrawn or defeated, but I understand that a register exists in other jurisdictions. I think that Norway has been mentioned.

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell): Clearly, there are huge issues at stake, and a fine balance has to be struck. I would like to know a little more about how the recusal code or policy works. When a conflict of interest is declared, how much detail is recorded and is it in the public domain? It would be good to look at that.

I get the impression from members that they would like to at least explore legislation in other countries. Norway has been mentioned. New Zealand did not proceed with the proposals, but it would perhaps be good to look at what was said there. As Daniel Johnson rightly points out, we have a new cabinet secretary, so it would be good to seek his views.

Are members content to progress by doing those three things?

Members indicated agreement.

The Justice Committee hearing on Petition PE1458 was also reported in the National newspaper here:

Seventh year of register or judges interests petition

By Martin Hannan Journalist  07 Feb 2019

The committee will also seek the views of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf

FOR nearly one third of the entire lifetime of the Scottish Parliament, MSPs have been discussing the petition put forward by law journalist and campaigner Peter Cherbi calling for a register of judges’ interests.

Now in its seventh year of consideration, the petition calls on the Scottish Parliament “to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill … or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests and hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.”

In the latest development, Holyrood’s Justice Committee has decided to call for more evidence after the Petitions Committee referred the case to them. John Finnie, Highland MSP for the Greens, said: “There is a public expectation – it is not unreasonable, in my view – that there should be no conflicts of interest.”

The committee will also seek the views of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.

As a result of the petition, the Scottish judiciary now keep a register of recusals, when a judge or sheriff steps aside from a case.

Cherbi commented: “It does somehow feel like the six years of work from the Public Petitions Committee (PPC) should be put to better use, and work should now begin on creating the register rather than repeating the evidence exercise.

“Seven years is a long time for a petition on transparency, especially one calling for a register of judicial interests to the equivalent or higher standard of the same register which MSPs are required to adhere to.

“I feel we must now move on and take the good work of MSPs on the PPC to bring this register into existence,” he added.

Previously, on the Register of Judicial Interests Petition –

A video report of the Public Petitions Committee backing for the petition can be viewed online here: Petition PE 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Public Petitions Committee 22 March 2018

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

MSP at Holyrood have previously heard over sixty two submissions of evidence, during twenty one Committee hearings, and a private meeting between two MSPs and a top judge, and two private meetings since early December 2017 to decide a way forward on their six year investigation.

Cross party support for the Petition at the Scottish Parliament saw fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate spanning from 2012 to 2018.

A full debate on the proposal to require judges to declare their interests was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 – ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

Scotland’s second Judicial Complaints Reviewer Gillian Thompson OBE also supported  the petition and the creation of a register of judicial interests during an evidence session at Holyrood in June 2015.

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

 

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ACCESS DENIED: Senior associate at Turcan Connell accessed confidential file note for ‘no professional reason’– prompting judge to rule law firm cannot act in ex Rangers owner’s divorce case due to conflict of interest

File access & Conflict of interest. CONCERNS of a lack of protection for client files at a top Scottish law firm – prompted a Court of Session judge to ban the Edinburgh based firm of lawyers from acting in a £10 million divorce case.

The ruling  against Turcan Connell – came after it emerged the wife of one of the law firm’s partners had accessed confidential file notes relating to the financial information of Kae Tinto Murray – who had taken on new legal representation in relation to a divorce case involving her husband – ex Rangers FC owner – Sir David Murray.

Details heard in court of the accessing of confidential files prompted Lord Neil Brailsford to issue a damning opinion which barred Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell from further acting for Sir David Murray in the divorce case.

The application for interdict against Turcan Connell – was brought by Kae Murray – to prevent the law firm from acting further for her husband Sir David Murray, in proceedings she had raised for divorce, with capital and alimentary financial claims, and for the setting aside of a pre-nuptial agreement regulating their financial affairs in the event of divorce.

Ms Murray and Sir David Murray separated on 22 March 2016. A summons in an action of divorce at the instance of the petitioner against Sir David Murray was signeted on 22 May 2018.

At the beginning of June 2018 Mr Littlefield met with the petitioner and advised that he could no longer act for her in relation to her trust and personal affairs.

She was also advised that Turcan Connell were acting for Si David Murray in the divorce proceedings and that, accordingly, Turcan Connell could no longer act for her in relation to the divorce.

On 4 June 2018 SKO Family Law sent a mandate to Turcan Connell requiring them to provide SKO with the petitioner’s files. That mandate was complied with. On 18 June 2018 a partner in SKO emailed Mr Littlefield primarily in relation to matters arising out of implementation of the mandate.

The email did however further ask for confirmation of what steps TC had “taken to ensure that any electronic information that you hold on behalf of [the petitioner] cannot be accessed by anybody within the firm who (i) may act for [the petitioner’s husband] in the context of the divorce action, and/or (ii) may be a witness in the divorce action to follow.”

On 11 September at a By Order hearing in the divorce action the issue of a challenge to Turcan Connell’s continued representation of Sir David Murray was raised. The present petition was presented on 18 September 2018. As previously noted the petitioner’s electronic file held by the respondents was locked down on 21 September 2018.

Senior Counsel for the petitioner informed the court of two occassions where Yvonne Littlefield accessed files in relation to Kae Murray – after the separation of the petitioner and Sir David Murray,.

On one occasion – Yvonne Littlefield accessed a file note relative to a telephone conversation that Mr Littlefield had with the petitioner on 14 March 2018.

On a second occasion, Yvonne Littlefield – accessed the petitioner’s electronic file again on 17 July 2018, being a time both after Turcan Connell had ceased to act for the petitioner and after the summons in the divorce proceedings had been served.

Counsel noted that in her affidavit, the explanation for accessing the petitioner’s electronic file on those occasions given by Mrs Littlefield was that she had, in the company of her husband Mr Littlefield, met the petitioner in the company of Sir David Murray at a social occasion.

In the context of a social meeting Yvonne Littlefield deponed in her affidavit that “She [the petitioner] struck me at the time as being the sort of person that I would like to include in future invites and it was my intention to keep in touch with her. I do try when meeting clients to understand what is going on in their lives and believe that such knowledge does enhance the relationship. Obviously all matters relating to clients are confidential but clients do appreciate it when they get a sense that they are genuinely appreciated.”

Yvonne Littlefield went on to state further “I have been asked why I have accessed file notes on the file. I would have done so simply for the very purpose of being up-to-date. I don’t know now but it may be that I had in mind inviting [the petitioner] to a Turcan Connell event.”

Senior counsel for the petitioner submitted that the explanation proffered by Mrs Littlefield was inadequate. The petitioner was not, and had never been, Mrs Littlefield’s client.

Mrs Littlefield had never acted for the petitioner nor offered her any professional advice. It was the submission of senior counsel that no proper justification for Mrs Littlefield’s access to the files had been tendered and that her ability to do so on the dates that she did “simply demonstrates the extent to which, within the respondent’s office, there is scope for information moving within a firm”.

The information claimed to be confidential comprised the “retained knowledge” of Mr Noel Ferry – a partner in Turcan Connell, and information in two files compiled by Mr Littlefield, electronic copies of which continued to be held by the firm.

Noel Ferry had earlier represented Kae Murray in the negotiation and preparation of the pre-nuptial agreement with Sir David Murray – while Mr Ferry was Head of Family Law in another firm of solicitors, Maclay Murray & Spens.

In 2013. Noel Ferry joined Turcan Connell initially as a senior associate and from April 2015 as a partner working in that firm’s Glasgow office in the field of family law.

Lord Braisford’s opinion states that “Since joining Turcan Connell, Mr Ferry has not acted for nor had any dealings with the petitioner. Since her marriage to Sir David Murray the petitioner has on a number of occasions instructed and obtained advice from another partner of TC, Mr Peter Littlefield.”

After a consideration of both parties files – Lord Brailsford said “On the basis of the foregoing analysis I form the view that the information contained in Mr Littlefield’s files constitutes information which is confidential to the petitioner disclosure of which would be potentially adverse to her interests.”

Lord Brailsford said it was the case an obvious conflict of interest existed from the date of service of the summons.

In his ruling Lord Brailsford went onto say: “I am bound to state that my view is that a conflict, or at least potential conflict, and therefor the need to have an effective information barrier, should have been obvious to TC from the date of the service of the summons in the action of divorce by the petitioner against her husband, a continuing client of the firm, on 22 May 2018.”

Additionally, Turcan Connell had not “provided the assurances necessary to satisfy the court that there was no risk of disclosure of information prejudicial to the petitioner outwith the direct control of those who had thus far given undertakings”.

The judge concluded: “Consideration of the line of authority I have been directed to demonstrates that the importance of protecting a client’s confidential information is such that professional advisors, in circumstances where they subsequently wish to act for someone with an interest adverse or potentially adverse to the former client, have an onerous burden placed upon them. A consideration of the amount of time that such files might take to investigate is in my view an inadequate reason for failure to consider all material held which might contain information confidential to the former client. I would add that in addition to these eight conclusions on the basis of the information before me, the concerns I expressed at the conclusion of the first hearing appear in large part, to continue to exist.”

“I respectfully agree with the observations of Lord Millet in Bolkiah (supra) that ad hoc arrangements made retrospectively, that is after a potential conflict between existing client and past client have emerged, are unlikely to be as robust as permanent arrangements which operate automatically and are already in place and operative when a conflict emerges. The reason for this is plain, ad hoc arrangements can take time to put into place. During any period before an ad hoc security arrangement or information barrier is erected and is operative there is the potential, by means of either deliberate or inadvertent action for confidential information to leak.”

“In the present case the most important information barrier was the “lock down” system of electronic files. For reasons which, as I have already said, no explanation was forthcoming, lock down did not operate for a period of something in the order of three and a half months after there was an obvious risk created by the petitioner ceasing to instruct TC and that firm correspondingly informing her that they could not act on her behalf in divorce proceedings against her husband.”

“As I have already observed the lack of adequate explanation for that intervention causes me concern. I consider that that fact increases the risk of disclosure of confidential information which is the petitioners concern in this petition. I am also concerned that there has been incomplete examination of all sections of the petitioner’s electronic file. This fact leads me to the conclusion that the court is still, notwithstanding that the respondents were given additional time to provide further information, in a position where it cannot be satisfied as to the precise level of any disclosure of confidential information which has occurred.”

Of further note in Lord Braislford’s opinion – “The petitioner’s submission was developed to show that any information barrier which existed within TC in the context of the petitioner’s file was of an “ad hoc” nature and therefore subject to the general criticism of ad hoc security arrangements made in
Bolkiah (supra) and Georgian American Alloys (supra).

In support of the proposition that, in the context of the present case, ad hoc security arrangements were likely to be inadequate three principle factors were advanced. The first was that the petitioner’s file was only “locked down” on 21 September 2018. This was three days after the present petition had been served upon TC. It was, further, four months after the summons in the divorce case was signeted and at least three and a half months after TC had ceased to act for the petitioner. This was said to clearly demonstrate that the information barrier being relied upon by TC was ad hoc and merely put in place to deal with contingencies as they arose. I was reminded that in Bolkiah (supra) Lord Millet observed that information barriers need to be “an established part of the organisational structure of the firm, not created ad hoc and dependent upon the acceptance of evidence sworn for the purpose by members of staff engaged on the relevant work”.

The second ground was that a necessary implication of the date of lock down was that up to that date there was unrestricted access to the petitioner’s file. A corollary of that was that TC required to rely upon “a large number of affidavits in which qualified and support staff set out their best recollection as to why they accessed the file, whether they recall anything about it and whether they would have discussed the contents with anyone.”

That consideration increased the level of risk of disclosure of information of a confidential nature whether inadvertently or otherwise. Reliance was made in this respect to observations of Field J in Georgian American Alloys (supra).  It was also observed by counsel for the petitioner at this point that whilst no criticism was made of TC there were three persons who had accessed the file from which affidavits had not been obtained. This was said to demonstrate the difficultly which would arise when ad hoc security arrangements required to be justified. The ad hoc nature of an arrangement meant, as a matter of probability, that no record of access would be kept and therefore attempts to identify potential disclosure at a later stage would be correspondingly difficult.

The third area of criticism was directed at the work done by Turcan Connell in an attempt to demonstrate that there had been no disclosure of confidential information.

Mr Davie had interrogated the correspondence” area of Turcan Connell’s electronic file for the petitioner. That exercise had enabled Mr Davie to show who had accessed that part of the file and what documents they had seen. He had not however sought to interrogate those parts of the electronic file relating to “emails”, “finance” or “signed documents”. That failure necessarily meant that who had accessed those parts of the file and what they may have accessed was unknown. In these circumstances it simply could not be said that there had been no disclosure of confidential information. It was submitted that there were was “no apparent reason why the respondent could not have provided the petitioner with the print offs for the remainder of the documents” which would have at least enabled them to satisfy themselves in relation to those parts of the file.

Having regard to all the foregoing considerations the submission was that it was impossible to know what the extent of the risk of disclosure in the past had been. Whilst it was accepted that the file had been locked down since 21 September it was further submitted that the risk of disclosure was not removed. The submission was developed by stating that the petitioner could see no obvious reason why TC required to retain the petitioner’s file within its electronic system at all. It was suggested that if TC had taken the step of removing the information from its system and storing it off-site, a step which was taken in relation to files in Bolkiah (supra) as a matter of example, that could have gone further towards removing risk of future disclosure. In these circumstances it was submitted that TC had not demonstrated to the extent necessary that the level of risk existing was acceptable. The submission was further renewed that the appearance of justice and the broader ground of the need to preserve the administration of justice justified the granting of interdict as craved.

The full opinion is available here: OPINION OF LORD BRAILSFORD In the petition KAE ALEXANDRA TINTO or MURRAY Petitioner for interdict

Clients concerned as to the confidentiality of their files with solicitors should pay particular attention to events in this case, particularly where a solicitor moved between firms (not an uncommon thing) but of course, the implications of such a move on confidentiality and failure to protect it, as revealed in this case.

Interestingly, and of note – the following publicly available biographies of Yvonne Littlefield, and that of her partner – Peter Littlefield  on the Turcan Connell website – make no mention of any marital connection, despite considerable details in other areas.

Bio – Peter Littlefield

Peter works principally in the areas of contentious probate, succession planning, trust law, will drafting, tax planning, asset protection, executry administration and charities. Peter specialises in tax and estate planning for private clients, including entrepreneurs and landowners. His work includes advice in connection with complex issues arising out of estates and post-death tax planning. He also advises a number of major national charities on Scots succession law.

Peter joined Turcan Connell 2002. He is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Peter graduated with an MA (Hons) degree in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh before completing his LLB degree and Diploma in Legal Practice. He speaks at seminars and conferences on succession and trust law.

Peter was assumed as a Partner in April 2011. He is married with two children, and enjoys skiing, mountain biking and the occasional triathlon.

Bio: Yvonne Littlefield

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1997 (LLB HONS DipLP), Yvonne trained with a firm of Glasgow Solicitors.  Following qualification as a solicitor in 1999, Yvonne joined Turcan Connell in April 2001 and was promoted to Senior Associate in 2015.

Yvonne advises clients in all areas of asset protection, succession and tax planning during lifetime including in particular, the use of trusts.  She regularly advises on (inheritance) tax efficient Wills, and deals with the executry administration of complex (sometimes contentious) estates.  She is also involved in incapacity planning e.g. Powers of Attorney and, where necessary, guardianship  applications.

Yvonne has been invovled with several clients and their wider families spanning more than a decade, and values the ongoing relationships, and the benefits that can provide when offering advice.

Yvonne is a fully qualified member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and a Notary Public.

 

 

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THE UNRECUSED: Mystery as 450 Justices of the Peace fail to register one single recusal in a full year after conflict of interest rules change for Scotland’s secretive army of lay magistrates

Justices of the Peace listed no recusals in court. CONCERNS are being expressed that Justices of the Peace are unwilling to declare conflicts of interest in court proceedings – after it emerged NOT ONE of Scotland’s Four Hundred and Fifty Justices of the Peace recused themselves from court proceedings in the past year – according to

The revelation comes after the Judicial Office for Scotland was quizzed on the lack of any registered recusal by a Justice of the Peace in the published Register of Recusals available on the Judiciary of Scotland website here: Judicial Recusals – Judiciary of Scotland.

In response to media enquiries the Judicial Office admitted it had not been informed of any recusal motion by any of Scotland’s Justices of the Peace.

The Judicial Office said: “We have received no notification of a JP recusing themselves from a case since the guidance came into force, which was in January 2018”

In response to further enquries for information relationg to any refusals of Justices of the Peace to recuse, the Judicial Office stated: “We are to be informed if a formal motion for recusal is granted or refused, or if the Judicial Office holder decides at their own accord to recuse.  Nothing has yet been reported to us.”

The worrying admission from Scotland’s top judges of their lower ranking colleagues failure to declare any conflicts of interest – comes after a solicitor suggested Justices of the Peace are unwilling or are refusing to declare what are known to be numerous conflicts of interest.

The statistics of not one single recusal by Justices of the Peace – who vastly outnumber Sheriffs, Judges of the High Court and Court of Session – have raised eyebrows in legal circles – after the steep increase in published judicial recusals from around 20 a year to 49 resulted after a change in recusal guidance last year – which saw requirements placed on tribunal members to register conflicts of interest.

Further enqiuries to legal sources have established there is some reticence on the part of Justices of the Peace to comply with the new guidance on recusals.

Speaking on condition of anonymity – a solicitor who has represented clients in relation to cases with troubling outcomes – heard by a Justice of the Peace with a known history of failing to address issues in the JP court – commented that he felt Justices of the Peace were not respecting requirements to list or declare their conflicts of interest.

The solicitor added that – particularly if someone is unrepresented before a JP court, there is little incentive for court clerks or the Justice of the Peace themselves to recuse themselves – given there is currently no fully published Register of Judicial Interests in Scotland.

Guidance requiring Justices of the Peace to declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from court hearings came into force in 2018 after calls for JPs to be brought into line with rules of recusals which apply to the remainder of Scotland’s judiciary.

This guidance was created after reports on Diary of Injustice here: DECLARE YOUR JUSTICE: Judicial Office consults with Lord Carloway on including Justices of the Peace in Register of Judicial Recusals – as questions surface over Lord Gill’s omission of 500 JPs from judicial transparency probe.

A report in the Scottish National newspaper in 2017 also featured the calls for JPs to register recusals, which can be viewed here: Campaigner calls on Scotland’s top judge to extend register of recusals.

The remainder of Scotland’s judiciary – currently headed by Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) – have been required from April 2014 to recuse themselves from court hearings in which a potential conflict of interest may emerge, the Register of Recusals.

However, and curiously – the numerically superior force of Justices of the Peace were excluded from the Register of Recusals, created by Lord Brian Gill in April 2014 as a response to a probe by the Scottish Parliament into a petition calling for a fully published Register of Judicial Interests:

There has never been an explanation offered by Lord Gill, or his successor Lord Carloway – for the exclusion of Justices of the Peace from the Register of Recusals when it was created five years ago after the then Lord President Brian Gill, attempted to thwart what became a six year Parliamentary probe by the Public Petitions Committee into Judicial Interests – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support from a full debate at Holryood in October 2014.

The petition has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate.

The investigation by MSPs of the proposal to create a Register of Judicial Interests – now in it’s seventh year – has since been taken over by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee – and is due to be heard again on 5 February 2019.

Justices of the Peace resited scrutiny of junkets – demanded cull of whistleblowers:

It has also emerged that bitter divisions within the Scottish Justices Association – which saw ‘hysteria’ by senior figures in the Justice of the Peace courts against the Sunday Herald – after the paperreported on numerous publicly funded junkets for Justices of the Peace to New Zealand  and around the world – have similarly been expressed in private against the  new requirements of Justices of the Peace to reveal their conflicts of interest.

The Sunday Herald reported on the junkets for Justices of the Peace here: Justices of the Peace group under fire for latest ‘junket’

A further article in the Sunday Herald in relation to troubles at the Scottish Justices Association – after the Sunday Herald exposed the JP junkets – is reprinted below:

Mole-hunts and mass culls … justices of the peace accused of ‘borderline hysteria’ after junket exposé

By TOM GORDON Sunday Herald 1 November 2015

THE Scottish Justices Association has been accused of “borderline hysteria” after proposing a mass cull of potential whistleblowers after being repeatedly criticised for overseas junkets.

The taxpayer-funded justice quango, which represents the country’s 400 justices of the peace, is considering axing its entire board as part of an extreme mole-hunt.

The idea was proposed after the Sunday Herald revealed SJA chair John Lawless was going on a five-day, £3,500 conference trip to New Zealand in September.

The Glasgow and Strathkelvin JP had previously been to conferences in Malaysia and Uganda in 2011 and 2012 at a total cost of £3,800.

When the Sunday Herald enquired about his latest jaunt, outgoing SJA secretary Keith Parkes sent a furious email to the organisation’s executive committee.

“The leak to the press should be considered a very serious breach of judicial ethics,” he said, recommending an immediate report to a senior judge.”

Parkes, who sits as a JP in Perth, suggested a complete clear-out of the SJA hierarchy.

“I consider that … the whole of the SJA executive committee should resign with immediate effect with new elections … where no current members would be allowed to stand.”

Parkes is expected to raise the matter at the SJA’s annual general meeting later this month.

Last year, the Sunday Herald revealed how Parkes, a former RAF pilot, sparked a row inside the SJA by going on a £3,000, five-day justice conference to Zambia.

Even some of his fellow SJA board members denounced the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) event as a “junket” and a “gross misuse of public funds”.

Held at the opulent Zambezi Sun Hotel next to Victoria Falls, the conference’s entire last day was set aside for sightseeing.

This year’s CMJA conference in the New Zealand capital Wellington, which Lawless attended, included two evening receptions, a “gala dinner”, and another full day’s sightseeing.

Although SJA bosses attending conferences are expected to write reports to enlighten their fellow JPs about the discussions, these have often been minimal in the past.

In 2008, two JPs at a CMJA conference in South Africa costing £4,227 produced “rather short reports that concentrated on their personal impressions of Nelson Mandela rather than what had been said at the conference”, according to a leak – one report was just 250 words long.

Lawless’s reports on his Malaysia and Uganda trips ran to 700 and 600 words respectively.

The SJA, which has a budget of around £18,000 a year, is entirely funded by the public purse.

Independent MSP John Wilson, who has previously queried the SJA’s spending priorities, said the idea of replacing the entire executive was “borderline hysteria”.

“This is a complete over-reaction,” he said. “It’s just because they’ve been named and shamed. The issue is not moles. It’s junkets when the court service is underfunded and overworked.” Lawless declined to comment.The issue is not moles. It’s junkets when the court service is underfunded and overworked;

_________________________________

BACKGROUND – JUSTICES OF THE PEACE:

Justices of the peace are lay magistrates who sit with a legally qualified adviser to deal with summary criminal cases.

There are around 450 justices, who are drawn from all walks of life.

Justices sit either alone or on a treble bench and deal with many driving offences such as speeding, careless driving, tachograph offences and driving without insurance.

They also deal with less serious assault, breach of the peace, theft and other less serious crimes. Their powers of punishment are limited to 60 days’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500 or both and to disqualify drivers on a discretionary basis.

The office of Justice of the Peace dates back to 1609, originally involving administrative, policing and judicial functions. The current justice of the peace courts were created in 2007 to replace district courts, which were operated by local authorities.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is now responsible for the administration of Justice of the Peace courts, which are organised by sheriffdom rather than local authority area. Throughout their history, justices have remained lay people, dispensing criminal justice on a local basis.

Justices are appointed by Scottish Ministers for five-year periods on the recommendation of Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees.Portree.

 

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LOOK AFTER THE LAWYERS: Law Society proposals to pro-lawyer legal review seek to reclaim control of regulation & complaints, appoint ‘window dressing’ ombudsman & criminalise ‘misuse’ of the word “lawyer”

Law Society proposal retakes control of regulating lawyers. AMID a series of failures by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to clean up poor standards of legal services and deal with complaints against solicitors, the Law Society of Scotland are proposing the return of control of regulation to the legal profession.

Earlier this week, and with sights set firmly on retaking control of the floundering SLCC,- the Law Society of Scotland submitted a series of proposals for ‘reforming regulation’ to the ‘independent’ review of legal services regulation – set up by the Scottish Government last year.

The move by the Law Society of Scotland comes amid a string of court setbacks for the SLCC involving Law Society backed challenges to the single regulator’s authority to hold solicitors to account for dishonesty, poor standards of legal service, overcharging & asset stripping of clients on an industrial scale.

However, the Scottish Government backed legal review group now hearing the Law Society’s proposals – was actually created in consultation with the Law Society itself, and is comprised of pro-lawyer decision makers from the world of ‘public appointments’ along with lawyers & advocates from the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates & Crown Office.

The ‘independent’ review panel – complete with an ‘independent’ chair are:  Christine McLintock – immediate past president Law Society of Scotland, Alistair Morris – chief executive of the management board, Pagan Osborne (Law Society of Scotland), Laura Dunlop QC – Hastie Stables (Faculty of Advocates), Derek Ogg QC – MacKinnon Advocates (Faculty of Advocates), Neil Stevenson – chief executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, Nicholas Whyte – chair of Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal, Ray Macfarlane –  chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, Jim Martin – outgoing Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Dr Dame Denise Coia – chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Prof Lorne Crerar – chairman, Harper Macleod LLP, Prof Russel Griggs – chair of the Scottish Government’s Independent Regulatory Review Group.

There is one sole ‘consumer representative’ on the review panel, listed as – Trisha McAuley OBE – independent consumer expert

Now, eager to wrestle power back from the SLCC on dealing with client complaints & consistent media coverage of woefully poor regulation of lawyers, the Law Society of Scotland has told the Scottish Government’s lawyer dominated review group that the current regulatory framework is “in drastic need of modernisation” and is “no longer fit for purpose”.

One of the key proposals from the Law Society, calls for the creation of yet another ‘independent legal role’ which would have oversight of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

The SLCC was created by the Scotitsh Government in 2008, with this year marking it’s tenth year in the role of single regulator of the legal profession.

However, the single regulation model has cost the Scots public dear – with the legal regulator burning through £30 million in complaints levies from solicitors – which are recovered from huge hikes in legal fees to clients.

The newly proposed role of Ombudsman – harking back to the vile days of the “Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman” would in practice – have to be filled by a person who is approved by the Law Society of Scotland and other vested legal interests.

The comparison with the former SLSO – which lacked any real powers and frequently backed away from holding the Law Society to account for mistakes, would render the newly proposed Ombudsman position of little real use to consumers, and more of a rubber stamp to lawyers eager to look after their colleagues in the face of complaints investigations.

The Law Society is also calling for the term “lawyer” to be protected in law –  in the same way the title “solicitor” is – where currently, it is a criminal offence for anybody to pretend to be a solicitor.

The move comes in the face of increased competition in business from companies & individuals who can call themselves a “lawyer” but are not qualified to the point of being a solicitor.

However, there are a number of cases were suspended or struck off solicitors have, or currently are still using the term “solicitor” to con unsuspecting members of the public out of tens of thousands of pounds of legal fees – including legal aid – yet the Law Society and SLCC have taken no action against these “solicitors” who still claim to be on the solicitors roll.

A press release from the Law Society of Scotland claims the wide-ranging reforms it has submitted, on behalf of it’s own members, will allow it to keep pace with global developments within the sector and improve consumer protection.

However, over the ten years since the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission came into being, at a cost of around £30 million pounds in complaints levies recouped from hikes in legal fees to clients, the SLCC, Law Society and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal have all miserably failed to protect consumers from rogues in the legal profession who are the cause of over 1000 complaints every year to legal regulators.

The latest proposals from the Law Society – which in actuality seek to retake control of regulation – set out a series of recommendations in its submission to an independent review of legal services regulation which lawyers claim include expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services, regulating firms operating beyond Scotland and overhauling the legal complaints system, which it says is overly complex, expensive and lacks proper oversight.

The recommendations by the Law Society to the legal review panel whose members were approved by the Law Society, include:

  • expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services
  • better regulation of legal firms as entities in addition to the regulation of individual solicitors to better protect consumers
  • new powers to suspend solicitors suspected of serious wrongdoing
  • widening the Law Society’s membership to improve standards amongst other legal professionals
  • protection of the term ‘lawyer’ to mean those who are legally trained and are regulated

Graham Matthews, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The Scottish legal sector is highly successful. It provides for over 20,000 high quality jobs and generates over £1.2 billion for the Scottish economy annually. However we have long argued for the need for reform to the current patchwork of regulation that governs legal services in Scotland.

“There has been enormous change within the sector in recent years and the current system – some of which is almost 40 years old – is struggling to meet the demands of today’s fast-changing legal market. That’s why we have called for completely new, flexible legislation which will allow much needed reforms and ensure we have a regulatory framework that is fit for purpose, addresses the challenges of modern legal practice – from cross-border working to technological advances enabling AI legal advice – and which puts protecting consumers at its core over the long term.

“We believe the scale of the changes needed justifies a new, single piece of enabling and permissible legislation that can adapt to changes within the sector over the next four decades and beyond. Any new prescriptive legislation, or simply making further amendments to existing legislation will quickly be outdated.”

The Law Society is seeking the ability to regulate law firms operating beyond Scotland and to strengthen its regulation of firms as entities, as well as its individual solicitor members.

Mr Matthews said: “There is a strong economic case for the Law Society being able to seek to become a regulator of legal services beyond Scotland, as having a single regulatory model for cross-border firms could make Scotland a more attractive jurisdiction for a firm to base its operations. Additionally, as firms must meet robust financial compliance and new anti-money laundering requirements are due to come into effect in June, it makes sense to extend the regulatory regime on a firm-wide basis to help improve consumer protection.”

Mr Matthews added that new legislation should encompass the unregulated legal advice sector.

He said: “No one knows the full scale of the unregulated legal sector, but many consumers who believe that they have obtained advice from a qualified, regulated legal professional only find out they have no recourse to redress when things go wrong. As we look to the future, there is no doubt that technological advances will mean increasing use of artificial intelligence in delivering legal services around the globe and it’s our view that any new regulatory framework must be flexible enough to make provision for this.”

In its submission, the Law Society has criticised the current legal complaints system as being complex and confusing and has called for the creation of an independent legal ombuds which would have oversight of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). Unlike the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates, the professional bodies for Scottish solicitors and advocates, which are overseen by the SLCC, there is nothing in law to stipulate oversight of the SLCC itself.

Mr Matthews said: “We want to streamline the complaints system, which for many is slow and overly bureaucratic, and have recommended that while the SLCC would continue to handle service complaints and the Law Society would continue to deal with all matters of professional discipline of Scottish solicitors, a key difference would be to allow either organisation to receive complaints and pass on those relevant to the other body to create a simpler, speedier and more cost effective process.

“Another critical improvement would be to introduce proper oversight of the SLCC. While the SLCC must submit its draft budget to the Scottish Parliament each year and ministers can make recommendations, they do not actually have the power to interfere with its budget or operation. This has led to significant, above-inflation hikes in the annual levy on Scottish solicitors for the past two years. Having an independent ombudsman would also simplify the appeals process and make it much less costly than the current process of taking appeals to the Court of Session.”

Summary of recommendations

  • The repeal of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 and those parts of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 which relate to the regulation of legal services and for the introduction of new enabling and permissible legislation for the regulation of legal services in Scotland and the Scottish solicitor profession, with the flexibility to move with the times and which allows for proactive regulation to ensure consumer protections remain robust.
  • Amending those sections of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 which relate to the regulation of legal services and the Scottish solicitor profession to address the difficulties in interpretation and application.
  • A new regulatory framework allowing for the flexibility for the Society to seek approval from the Legal Services Board to be an authorised regulator for those multi-national practices operating in Scotland. 
  • That any new regulatory framework makes provision for the regulation of legal services provided remotely by artificial intelligence.
  • Retaining an independent professional body for the regulation and professional support of the Scottish solicitor profession.
  • Retaining a separate and independent discipline tribunal for decisions in serious cases of professional misconduct.
  • That all legal service providers providing services direct to the consumer be regulated, strengthening consumer protections and enhancing consumer confidence in the Scottish legal sector.
  • That the term ‘lawyer’ be a protected term, in the same way as solicitor, and only those able to demonstrate recognised legal qualifications, and who are regulated, are permitted to use the term.
  • That primary legislation provides the permissible powers for the Law Society of Scotland to extend entity regulation to those firms wholly owned by solicitors.
  • That a new system for dealing with complaints about legal services and solicitors is introduced, recognising the paramount aim to protect consumers whilst allowing the Society to continue to deal with the professional discipline of its members, and adopting relevant processes to make the system speedy, effective and efficient whilst recognising the differences between consumer redress and professional discipline.
  • That primary legislation provides for the permissible power for the Law Society of Scotland to open up membership to non-solicitors.

In the Law Society of Scotland’s Public Relations  strategy to retake control of complaints – Leading Legal Excellence, the legal profession sets out their ambition to secure what they call a modern, flexible and enabling legislative framework.

The Law Society Press Release also states: “Most of the legislation covering the operation and regulation of the legal market is over 35 years old. It’s increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose.  Whilst some reforms were brought in 2007 and 2010, the whole framework can be confusing and, in some cases, contradictory.

“That is why we believe new legislation is needed to better protect consumers and allow the Scottish legal services market to thrive.”

REGULATION REVIEW:

An independent review of the regulation of legal services was announced by the Minister of Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing on 25 April 2017.

The purpose of the review will be to make independent recommendations to reform and modernise the framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling.  The review is intended to ensure a proportionate approach to regulation that supports growth in the legal services sector.  It should also place consumer interests firmly at the heart of any system of regulation, including the competitive provision of legal services.  The review will focus on the current regulatory framework, the complaints and redress process for providers of legal services including solicitors and advocates, and ongoing market issues such as investigating the benefits of regulating firms as well as individual solicitors.

A full report on the Scottish Government’s review of legal services – unmasked as a lawyer dominated pro-self regulation panel – can be found here: REGULATED REVIEW: Scottish Government panel to look at self regulation of lawyers – Former Cabinet Minister calls for review to include judiciary, and panel membership to strike ‘better balance between lawyers & non-lawyers’

The panel members who make up the so-called ‘independent’ review of legal services include:

*Two former Presidents of the Law Society of Scotland;

* The current Chief Executive of the pro-lawyer Scottish Legal Complaints Commission;

* An outgoing Scottish Public Services Ombudsman widely criticised for ineptitude;

* The current chair of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) – who struck off only six solicitors last year;

* The chair of a law firm whose partners have regularly appeared before the SSDT;

* A QC from an advocates stable where colleagues have been linked to a cash payments scandal;

* A former Crown Office Prosecutor & QC linked to events in the David Goodwillie rape case – where the victim was forced to sue her assailant through the civil courts after the Lord Advocate refused to prosecute the footballer.

More recently, MSPs who sit on the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee were subject to calls to delay their investigation of petitions calling for fully independent regulation of the legal profession in Scotland.

Proposals before the Scottish Parliament calling for views on scrapping self regulation of the legal profession in Scotland received representations from Scottish Ministers , the Chair of a pro-lawyer review panel and a Law Society-backed legal regulator – calling for MSPs to back off from investigating regulation of legal services.

Unsigned letters from the Scottish Government, the Chair of an ‘independent’ review group dominated by lawyers, and the pro-lawyer Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) – call on members of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to wait until the end of a two year review – conducted by lawyers – before MSPs conduct any independent investigation of lawyers investigating themselves.

However, when the Scottish Government created the ‘independent’ review last April, 2017, former Cabinet Minister Alex Neil MSP (SNP Airdrie and Shotts) said the ‘independent’ review created by the Scottish Government, should include judges – and the membership of the review team should be expanded to balance up the panel’s current top heavy legal interests membership.

And, in a case related to significant failures of legal regulation, Alex Neil  branded the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC)  “a toothless waste of time” – after the legal services regulator failed to act in a high profile case involving a senior QC – John Campbell – who is caught up in a cash payments scandal – which has since led to information provided to journalists on other Advocates & QCs who have demanded & pocketed substantial and apparently undeclared cash sums from clients.

Video footage of the Petitions Committee’s deliberations on proposals submitted by the public to reform regulation of legal services in Scotland, can be viewed here:

Regulation of legal profession reform – Public Petitions Committee 21 September 2017

A full report on recent submissions to the Public Petitions Committee can be found here: LOOKING OUT FOR LAWYERS: Scottish Ministers unite with lawyer dominated review panel & pro-lawyer legal regulator – to urge Holyrood MSPs delay probe on proposals for independent regulation of legal services

 

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TRIBUNAL INTERESTS: As MSPs consider way forward for Judicial Interests Register, calls grow to include wealthy, well connected Tribunal members as Lord Carloway appoints 28 Tribunal judges

Tribunals – dominated by wealthy, powerful individuals & professional groups. AMID recent moves in a Scottish Parliament investigation considering a way forward for judges to register their interests, an ongoing media probe of individuals and professional groups who dominate tribunals has revealed ties between tribunal judges and solicitors found guilty of professional misconduct.

In one case, an employment tribunal judge who has featured in several controversial tribunal decisions has been found to have links to a lawyer found guilty of  professional misconduct by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

The lawyer, who escaped penalty was found guilty by the SSDT in respect of misleading the Royal Bank of Scotland as to the purpose of obtaining loan funds from the Bank on the basis that they were required to purchase a property in Scotland when the truth was that they were required to purchase a property in an EU country.

The solicitor involved in the deception case , and now linked to the Employment tribunal judge – advertises himself as an “employment law specialist”.

In a further case currently being probed by the media, a second tribunal judge has been found to have links to an Edinburgh law firm accused of embezzling tens of thousands of pounds from client accounts, in a complaint which is currently under investigation by legal regulators.

The two cases of potential conflicts of interest for Tribunal judges, and emerging cases of other conflicts of interest at tribunals come as the Judicial Office announced in January the appointment of twenty eight Tribunal judges – without any declarations of interest or background.

Earlier this month, the Judicial Office announced the appointment of fourteen new Employment Judges to the panel of judges of Employment Tribunals (Scotland).

By virtue of the power conferred upon the Lord President by regulation 8 of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013, Lord Carloway appointed Claire Marie McManus, Muriel Robison and Mark David Whitcombe as salaried Employment Judges.

Ms McManus and Ms Robison were appointed with effect from 1 January 2018, while Mr Whitcombe’s appointment will take effect from 5 March 2018.

The Lord President has also appointed the following 11 persons as Employment Judges on a fee-paid basis, for the five-year period from 15 January 2018 until 15 January 2023: Neil Antony Buzzard, Sally Emma Cowen, David William Hoey, Amanda Crawford Jones, Paul Dominic McMahon, Roderick Murdoch McPherson, Declan John O’Dempsey, Peter George O’Donnell, Melanie Jane Sangster, Michelle Diane Sutherland, Giles Ian Woolfson

A further round of appointments of Pensions Tribunal judges was made earlier today, revealing another fourteen new members have been appointed by Lord Carloway to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland.

The Lord President appointed David McNaughtan, advocate; Robert Milligan QC; David Short, solicitor; and Nick Gardiner, advocate, as Legal Members.

Lord Carloway has also appointed the following persons to the tribunal: Service Members: Col. Stuart Campbell, Lt. Col. William Lindsay, Col. Pat Wellington, Ft.-Lt. Lee Bryden

Medical Members: General Medical: Dr. James O’Neill, Dr. Richard Hardie, Dr. Taru Patel

Psychiatric: Dr. Tim Dalkin, Dr. Paul Cavanagh, Dr. Ross Hamilton

The appointments came into effect on 11 January 2018 under the powers conferred upon the Lord President by paragraph 2 of the Schedule to the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943.

The selection process for both round of appointments followed a closed-doors recruitment exercise calling for applications from suitably qualified individuals who wished to be considered for appointment.

Currently, not one member of any tribunal is required to declare their interests in a published register of interests – despite their position as a judge, deciding on cases before them where they could have a vested interest in the outcome.

a call has been made for all tribunal members to declare and register their interests.

The manner in which tribunals are created and governed in Scotland, is a familiar model of professionals within the same groups and spheres of influence – awarding jobs to colleagues, the favoured, and vested interests.

A no expenses spared approach for tribunal members who tow the line is often the case, enhanced with office accommodation such as the new tribunals centre being created in Glasgow at 3 Atlantic Quay, a high-quality office development close to the River Clyde in the centre of the city.

In October 2017, the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) confirmed they and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have decided to rationalise their accommodation and move jointly into the new centre – which is being rented out at nearly £2million a year from the Moorfield Group and partners Resonance Capital.

The moves planned to start next year will also mean that accommodation is ready for the tribunals that are going to be devolved to the SCTS.

Members of tribunals are recruited by the Judicial Appointments Board (JAB) during appointments rounds regularly held to fill vacancies in the murky world of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and Judiciary of Scotland.

Applicants face interviews from their peers across the legal, professional, charitable and public service world & industries awash with public cash, junkets, charity interests, coaching, arbitration & consultancy profits.

Successful candidates are subsequently appointed by Scottish Ministers.

An example of a recent appointments round run by the Judicial Appointments Board saw 30 new Legal Members and 19 Ordinary Members appointed by the Scottish Ministers to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland and assigned to the Housing and Property Chamber by the President of Scottish Tribunals, Lady Smith.

A full report on the earlier appointments round can be found here: TRIBUNAL REGISTER: Calls for transparency as legal & wealthy, well connected interests dominate Tribunals system membership – Register of Recusals & Interests should be extended to cover all Tribunals in Scotland.

Coverage of recent calls to create a full register of interests for all tribunal members can be found in an earlier report here: TRIBUNAL INTERESTS: Calls for wealthy, well connected interests & professions who dominate tribunals & appeals system to be brought into line with transparency & declarations in published register of interests

The National reported on the issue of creating a register of interests for tribunal members in October 2017:

Call for change to tribunals – Legal campaigner says recusal register myst be extended

Martin Hannan Journalist 14 October 2017 The National

THE man who is leading the transparency campaign for Scotland’s judges to register their interests now says the idea should be extended to everyone who sits on a public tribunal.

Peter Cherbi will shortly pass the five-year mark in his campaign via the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee for there to be a judicial register of interests, similar to those registers already in existence to which all elected politicians and police officers must conform.

The register proposal has been strongly resisted by senior judges and other top lawyers, but is supported by politicians from all parties – the Petitions Committee has taken considerable amounts of evidence and is due to debate the plan again shortly.

Now Cherbi, who is well-known in Scottish legal circles for his blogging and campaigning for reform of the Scots law system, says that tribunal members should also have to declare their interests.

Under the present system of appointments to tribunals it is up to members themselves to declare an interest if, for example, they have personal relationships with those appearing before them, and step aside from a case – known as recusal.

There has been considerable re-organisation of the tribunal system in Scotland since the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 simplified the statutory framework.

The First-tier Tribunal is organised into a series of chambers. From December 1, 2016, the Housing and Property Chamber was established and took on the functions of the former Home Owner and Housing Panel and the Private Rented Housing Panel.

From April 24 this year, the Tax Chamber was established and took on the functions of the former Tax Tribunals for Scotland.

The Upper Tribunal hears appeals from the First-tier Tribunals and the head of the whole system is Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Carloway, with the Rt Hon Lady Smith as president of the Scottish Tribunals.

Others tribunals include the Mental Health Tribunal, the Additional Support Needs Tribunal, the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel and the Lands Tribunal. More tribunals will come with greater devolved powers but employment tribunals are still under the control of the Westminster Government.

Cherbi says all such public tribunals should be open and transparent about their members’ interests and points out that there is no register of recusals for any of the tribunals.

He said: “As should the judiciary now declare their interests in a publicly available register, members of tribunals who are engaged in the business of judging others should declare their full interests and any instances of recusals in a publicly available register.

“The business of judging others – for it surely has become a business over the years – must now be subject to the same public expectation of transparency and accountability as tribunals apply to those appearing before them.

“The public, the media and our democratically elected politicians in our Parliament, as well as those who are judged, have the right to view, be informed about, and inspect those who judge society with unchallenged power in equal light.

“And this is not just about Scottish Tribunals. Take for instance DLA appeals and PIP appeals. The tribunal structure which covers those are riven with huge, wealthy interests, yet there is no register and no ability for those appearing before them to inspect those who sit in judgement upon their claims.

“I looked at a Department of Work and Pensions Tribunal comprising a surgeon, a lawyer and a ‘disabled’ tribunal member – accumulated wealth between the three, their partners and businesses and properties totalled well into the millions, yet claimants, some with no limbs who are struggling to claim an extra £30 a month, get knocked back while tribunal members are paid expenses and remuneration and we know nothing of it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We consider that a specific register of interests is not needed. Existing safeguards, including the Judicial Oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Interests and the system of complaints against the judiciary, are sufficient to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary in Scotland.”

YOUR TRIBUNAL: A publicly funded adversarial environment full of vested interests:

Next year, tribunals will move to an expensive new home in the centre of Glasgow.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) are to rationalise accommodation in Glasgow and the new Tribunals Centre will be located at 3 Atlantic Quay.

The SCTS claim the 34 hearing rooms for cases to be heard, the design of the centre will provide excellent facilities for all tribunal users, and specific  support for young users with additional support needs.  Additionally, the centre will provide facilities for vulnerable witnesses to give evidence to both Glasgow Sheriff Court and the High Court.

During 2018, the SCTS-supported Housing and Property and Health and Education Tribunal Chambers will move into the new Centre. The HMCTS-operated social security tribunal will move at a similar time with other tribunals HMCTS services to follow at a later date.

The SCTS provides support to many of Scotland’s devolved tribunals and is making preparations for the future transfer of the UK reserved tribunals operations in Scotland, currently provided by HMCTS.

If you have any experience before any of these Tribunals, or information in relation to cases, Diary of Injustice journalists would like to hear about it. All information and sources will be treated in strict confidence, contact us at scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

Previous reports on moves to publish judicial recusals in Scotland and a media investigation which prompted further reforms of the Scottish Register of Judicial Recusals can be found here: Judicial Recusals in Scotland – Cases where judges have stood down over conflicts of interest

 

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