Dean Pledges Support for New Appeal Court

04 Nov

The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates has pledged his support and the support of the profession to make the new Sheriff Appeal Court a success.

James Wolffe QC was speaking at the first sitting of the court at the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh presided over by Sheriffs Principal Mhairi Stephen QC and Craig Scott QC, President and Vice-President of the court.

The court was also addressed by the Lord Advocate and the Vice-President of the Law Society of Scotland.

The Dean said the current reform of the sheriff court system was the most significant since its creation in the reign of David I. Of those reforms, the establishment of the new Appeal Court was the most important structural innovation.

“This Court will decide individual cases – both summary criminal appeals and civil appeals – and will do justice and right without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. It will also have an important role in articulating and developing the law of this land.

“In our system, justice is a co-operative endeavor. It depends on the skill and integrity with which all those who are involved in the administration of justice fulfill their functions – whether as judges, advocates or solicitors.

“The great seventeenth century Lord Advocate and Dean of Faculty, Sir George Mackenzie, spoke of the work of judges as the deliberative part of our system, and the work of those who appear before them as the creative part.

“But the work of an appellate judge has its creative aspect too. I hope that as it engages in the endeavor of doing justice and as it articulates and develops the law, this Court will find assistance from the submissions of those who appear before it.

“As Dean of Faculty, I pledge my support, and the support of the profession which I lead, for the work of this Court – and in helping to make it the success that, under your leadership, it will be.”

Frank Mulholland QC, the Lord Advocate, said the reforms would enable the best use to be made of the sheriff court system and added: “The law of Scotland will be all the better for that.”

Sheriff Principal Stephen said an opportunity had been created by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 to develop a new appeal court for a modern Scotland.

The Sheriff Court was truly the people’s court as the vast majority of people who came into contact with the justice system did so through the Sheriff Court. The new Appeal Court must establish an identity to enable the people of Scotland to have confidence in the court and its decision-making.