As Scots all over the world have been preparing to raise a glass to celebrate a national hero, Robert Burns, a report has been published which discusses the possibility of an independent Scotland setting up its own Supreme Court.  The Walker report, which was commissioned by the Justice Secretary in December 2008 following the establishment of the UK Supreme Court, looks at the potential impact of the UK Supreme Court on the Scottish legal system and suggests a number of changes depending on whether Scotland remains devolved or becomes fully independent. 

Although appeals in Scottish criminal cases are heard in the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, the UK Supreme Court remains the final court of appeal for civil cases.  Scotland is a devolved power and the report suggests that it would therefore be preferable to establish a quasi-federal Supreme Court being a Supreme Court sitting in Scotland which would hear civil and criminal Scottish cases raising common UK  issues.  All cases addressing questions of Scottish law only would be heard by native courts.

The report then suggests that, should Scotland become independent, it would be favourable to establish a Scottish Supreme Court which would act as the final court of appeal for all Scottish cases. 

However, at a time when it is recognised that support for Scottish independence is falling (for instance, a survey published in the Sunday Times in March 2009 showed that only 33% of respondents would support independence) it seems that Walker’s vision of a Scottish Supreme Court may still be some way off becoming a reality.

For further coverage of the Walker report see the Scotsman, The Press and Journal (which quotes a Conservative MSP as saying “the report is an enormous waste of time and money as independence will never happen”) and Aidan O’Neill’s post on the Blog last week which contains a detailed analysis of the report’s contents.

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