News In Focus
Lord Gill looks forward to "year of fresh starts"
24 September 2012
The sweeping changes about to hit the Scottish civil justice system were the leading theme in Lord President Gill's address, given on Friday, to mark the opening of the new legal year.
Heralding a "year of fresh starts", this being his own first full year as Lord President as well as having just seen Lord Carloway take up office as Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill highlighted the "remarkable exercise in legislative reform" that would see, first, the bill to create the Scottish Civil Justice Council, and then, next year, the Court Reforms (Scotland) Bill to create the structure envisaged in his own review of the civil courts.
Commending the Scottish Government's "positive response to our recommendations and... the prompt and committed way in which it has proceeded to implementation", the Lord President told his audience that while there might be argument over the fine details of the design of the new justice "vehicle", they should be in "no doubt as to the direction in which the vehicle will travel".
He committed himself as a major priority to ensuring that the reforms would be made effective through new rules of court. Full implementation, he added, would require a sustained effort by legislators, the executive, and court administrations, and on the part of the judiciary and the profession "a positive and co-operative approach".
Lord Gill also drew attention to the Scottish Court Service paper, published the same day, on the future of the sheriff and justice of the peace courts, with its proposals for court closures, which he said looked to longer term needs and not simply immediate economic pressures.
He then praised the Judicial Studies Committee, now 15 years old and "an internationally respected professional training organisation", which was about to move into Parliament House where it could operate more efficiently and effectively.
"With effect from its move into this building, the JSC will become the Judicial Institute for
Scotland", he concluded. "I have every confidence that its reputation will in this way be further enhanced.
"I urge all of my judicial colleagues at every level of the system to make the
most of the opportunities that the new Judicial Institute will provide."
Click here to access the text of the address.