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New Vice-Dean elected; James Wolffe QC wins advocates' ballot.

News - date posted 15/2/2013

New Vice-Dean elected; James Wolffe QC wins
advocates' ballot.

James Wolffe QC has been elected as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. Mr Wolffe succeeds Iain Armstrong QC who has been appointed as a Judge in the Court of Session and High Court.

The Vice-Dean is elected by a ballot of members of Faculty and the four candidates were Mr Wolffe, Simon Di Rollo QC, Ian Duguid QC and Peter Gray QC.

The newly-elected Vice-Dean called to the Bar in 1992 and took silk in 2007. He was First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Ministers from 2002-2007 and was a High Court prosecutor between 2007 and 2010.

Mr Wolffe has extensive experience in commercial and public law, including judicial review and human rights cases and has appeared in the House of Lords, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

He has given evidence at the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the Faculty on law reform issues and recently appeared before a sub-committee of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union to voice concerns over a UK opt out from the European Arrest Warrant.

In a recent speech to devils (trainee advocates Mr Wolffe stressed the role of an independent Bar in providing access to justice in Scotland.

"The Faculty makes available to the people of Scotland a pool of specialist pleaders, each of whom is available to advise any client, and to appear in any court or tribunal in any place in Scotland, not to mention the UK Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.

"This promotes equal access to justice throughout Scotland, for example, by allowing small firms of solicitors in rural areas or elsewhere to access the best advice for all their clients on the same terms as large firms and big corporations.

"The books on constitutional law discuss in some detail the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the judiciary is, of course, fundamental to the rule of law.

"But an independent legal profession, though less noticed, is, it seems to me, no less important. If there were no lawyers available to advise clients as to their rights, access to the courts would, in reality, be of limited value.

"And the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law would be set at naught if there were not lawyers willing and able to take on any client and to represent the interests of that client, fearlessly, with forensic skill, professional integrity and resolute independence."

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