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Statement on formation of Expert Group on the Supreme Court

A statement to the formation of an expert group to look at the issue of the Supreme Court and Scottish justice.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A Scotland Office spokesman said:

“The Secretary of State has passed 150 pages of evidence on this issue to the Scottish government already. The Scotland Office will also provide that material to the members of the new group to assist them.

“The responses to the expert group set up by the Advocate General showed overwhelming support for the Supreme Court maintaining its important role in devolution issues.

“The First Minister clearly wants to see one conclusion in particular. It is one we disagree with and one the previous expert group also rejected. 

“It is extremely important the new group looks objectively at the issue of justice rather than geography. We have already pointed out it seems odd to prefer to go to Strasbourg with its huge backlog of cases and no Scottish judges when 2 sit on the Supreme Court.

“There has a been a great deal of misinformation about the role of the Supreme Court in recent weeks. The idea that the independence of Scots law is under threat is simply wrong.

“The fact remains that only a tiny number of cases go to the Supreme Court every year and the High Court remains Scotland’s highest criminal court.

“The only way that criminal proceedings reach the Supreme Court from Scotland is where there is a devolution issue, typically where it is alleged that there has been a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by a Scottish Minister. 

“The court only rarely grants permission in devolution issues arising from Scottish criminal proceedings:  it refuses to hear many more appeals in such matters than it decides to allow. Since 2009, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases from Scotland on criminal matters, against around a dozen criminal cases from England and Wales.”

“The High Court of Justiciary remains the senior appeal court for criminal cases in Scotland.”

Published 6 June 2011