Opening of Legal Year address by Lord President
THE Lord President, Lord Carloway, predicted a “leaner and fitter” Court of Session with shorter waiting times for cases, and highlighted the near-impossible task of meeting time limits in the High Court, in an address to mark the opening of the Legal Year.
Lord Carloway said changes such as the All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court and the increase in the sheriff court’s exclusive jurisdiction to £100,000 had seen “a significant reduction” in appellate and first instance work in the Court of Session.
“As a consequence of all this, the Court of Session ought to become leaner, trimmer and fitter in the coming years. There ought to be a significant reduction in waiting times for civil first instance and appellate hearings…However, I fully recognise that further work requires to be carried out to accommodate longer proofs within much shorter timescales,” said Lord Carloway.
The event, in the First Division courtroom in Parliament House, was attended by a host of legal luminaries from Scotland and beyond. They included Lady Hale, President of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Thomas, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice of Ireland.
In relation to the criminal courts, Lord Carloway said he remained conscious of the fact that almost all High Court cases required an extension of time.
“However, I do not consider that this is caused by an inefficiency in the system. Rather, the introduction of enhanced disclosure, the need to search electronic databases and social media, and advances in forensic science have made it all but impossible to comply with timescales set in a different era while at the same time accommodating the diaries of parties’ legal representatives,” he added.
Lord Carloway introduced 14 new Queen’s Counsel to the Court. He said the rank and dignity of Queen’s Counsel was hard earned and well deserved for each of them.
Thirteen were members of Faculty - Jonathan Barne, Lynda Brabender, Almira Delibegovic-Broome, James Findlay, Anthony Graham, Gavin MacColl, Stephen O’Rourke, David Parratt, Martin Richardson, Thomas Ross, Michael Stuart, David Thomson and Gavin Walker.
The list was completed by Antony Jones, solicitor-advocate.
Lord Carloway’s speech is here