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UK Supreme Court and Scottish criminal cases

The Review Group examining the relationship between the High Court of Justiciary and the UK Supreme Court in criminal cases has published its final report.

The group – chaired by Lord McCluskey – has focused on the role of the UK Supreme Court under existing constitutional arrangements.

The final report recognises that:

– The current system whereby the UK Supreme Court acts as a court of appeal within the criminal justice system is constitutionally problematic, and affects the historical independence of Scots law.
– To preserve this independence, the role of the UK Supreme Court needs to be more narrowly defined in relation to Scottish criminal cases.
– The current Scotland Bill proposals (around the removal of the Lord Advocate’s acts from the UK Supreme Court’s devolution jurisdiction and the substitution of that court as a court of appeal) are profoundly flawed, and require significant recasting in order to maintain the High Court of Justiciary at the apex of the Scots legal system.
– Allegations of Convention rights incompatibilities occurring in criminal proceedings elsewhere in the UK do not reach the Supreme Court unless a certificate is granted by the relevant apex court, and there is no comprehensible reason for making the position of the High Court different in Scotland than applies in the case of courts elsewhere in the UK.