Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scots Legal Independence

The 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland saw the nations' individual Parliaments replaced by the new Parliament of Great Britain but the the Scottish legal system was preserved, with provisions that the Courts ... remain in all time coming within Scotland, and that Scots Law remain in the same force as before. This means today the devolved Scottish Parliament legislates for areas such health, education, criminal justice, local government, environment, and civil justice whilst the UK Parliament has reserved powers over matters such as defence, international relations, fiscal and economic policy, drugs law, and broadcasting.

The Herald reports today about concerns that the UK Governments proposed Counter Terrorists Bill now threatens Scots legal independence. The argument centres on clause 27 of the bill, which provides that proceedings for an alleged offence may be taken at any place in the United Kingdom. The Law Society of Scotland said that safeguards were needed to protect the prosecutorial independence of the Lord Advocate and the constitutional position of the High Court.

It strikes me the motto of the Order of the Thistle, Nemo me impune lacessit (None provoke me unpunished) often rendered in Scots as Wha daur meddle wi me? (Who dares meddle with me?) is appropriate for the brewing row.


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