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Society blog

21 Feb 18

Scottish Legal International comes to fruition

Joint initiative aims to promote Scottish profession internationally

30 Aug 17

A paralegal's tale

Janet Rieu-Clarke, the Law Society’s accredited paralegal, explains the path that led her to new role at the Society and the rationale behind the new accredited paralegal status.

30 Aug 17

A call to vote from John Scott

John Scott QC urges his fellow solicitor advocates to vote for their dedicated representative

29 Aug 17

No globalisation without representation...

Katie Hay discusses the globalisation of the legal market and urges Scottish solicitors working internationally, to get involved

24 Jul 17

Bringing the world to "world-class"

Sarah Sutton, digital communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, talks about her bright idea to ensure international representation on the Society’s Council

26 Jun 17

The Debate - backstage, front of house and top tips

In this mini-series of blogs, three key players in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament share their individual perspectives of the event.

19 Jun 17

Got a passion for the profession?

Could one of the 23 current vacancies for 16 different committees be just right for you?

28 Apr 17

Professional Practice - advising the advisers

Scottish solicitors help their clients through some of the most momentous occasions of their lives, personal or professional, good or bad. But where do solicitors turn for support? Prof Prac, that's where.

1 Nov 16

How getting involved in debating can change your life

Head of education Rob Marrs explains how getting involved in debating, whether as competitor or judge, can be incredibly rewarding. And more importantly, he explains how to win a debate.

14 Oct 16

Career development and volunteering at the Law Society of Scotland

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or just give back to your profession, there are lots of different personal and professional development opportunities at the Society

Editors Blog

Courts and politics

9 Sep 19

Courts should be able to intervene if an abuse of power threatens the balance between executive and legislature

“Testing the constitution to breaking point.” One would not expect the description to be applied to a Prime Minister and Government of the party hitherto associated with stability and continuity, but that is where we are. And it is hard, in commenting on the month’s events, not to be drawn back to the current high drama.

Academic commentators may be expected to be as objective as anyone over the controversy surrounding the move to prorogue Parliament for roughly five of the eight weeks then remaining until what Mr Johnson has determined will be Brexit day come what may. Many have voiced deep concerns over this use of prerogative powers, to name only one of the points of controversy. But will the courts intervene? And should they?

Political territory or not, there is at least an argument that if the executive attempts to circumvent the accepted role of Parliament in holding it to account, thereby upsetting the balance between these two of the three sides of the constitution, then the third side, the judiciary, should in principle be competent to step in and rule what is and is not acceptable. There may be some acts that are considered to be political tactics rather than a possible abuse of power, and not suitable for judicial consideration, but that does not affect the principle. If the outcome of the various present court proceedings – begun separately in all three UK jurisdictions and surely destined for the Supreme Court – is that political events must be left to run their course even where questions arise over proper use of powers, what is to stop matters being pushed even further on a future occasion, which given the pace of developments might arrive sooner rather than later?

If the sovereign Parliament, answerable to the electorate, can be sidelined by executive fiat, the very notion that these are matters that should be left to be determined by Parliament becomes somewhat meaningless. It is no surprise that discussion of the need for a written constitution is also becoming fashionable; but if those who hold power are able under the system as it stands to wield it in a way that suits themselves, there must be little prospect of that coming about.

Events will no doubt have moved on considerably between this being written and being read, but I suggest the fundamentals will remain valid. Whether or not the courts see fit to intervene over the precise actions under scrutiny, it is to be hoped that they will assert their authority to ensure that the checks and balances that have undoubtedly been regarded as built into our constitution, are not allowed to be distorted.

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Blog archive

9 Sep 19

Courts and politics

Courts should be able to intervene if an abuse of power threatens the balance between executive and legislature

12 Aug 19

Constitutional meltdown?

The fundamentals of our constitution should not be put at risk simply in order to achieve Brexit by the scheduled date

8 Jul 19

70, and counting

The Society is in good shape as it turns 70, though uncertainty lies ahead

12 Jun 19

Uncovering the unacceptable

Our self-styled ethical profession has a problem of bullying and harassment. Can it be treated as a question of fitness to practise?

15 May 19

Make wellbeing a thing

Staff wellbeing in legal firms has to become a matter of culture, with supporting mechanisms in place

8 Apr 19

Law for people

The dignity of the law has come before the dignity of those caught up in its processes. What might happen if that were reversed?

12 Mar 19

Shape your future

Despite the uncertainty, it would benefit legal firms to think proactively about how to react to Brexit

11 Feb 19

Flexible is possible

As this month's lead feature illustrates, large and small firms alike can operate flexible working practices, and there appear to be few issues with clients when they do

14 Jan 19

Seeking the positive

A bit of flexibility and imagination can achieve things this year, whether for a business in the face of Brexit or for employees to improve their work-life balance, and wellbeing

3 Dec 18

A turbulent Christmas

Depressing divisions and a lack of clear thinking dominate the Brexit scene. But (stop press) there is something positive in the official reaction to the legal aid review