And finally… beyond the competence of Holyrood

And finally... beyond the competence of Holyrood

A question from a politician gave the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, pause for thought, and laughter, at Holyrood yesterday.

The judge, along with Lord Ericht, was appearing before the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, which was taking evidence on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill.

Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman – seemingly justifying the Scottish government’s attempts to gather more power for itself – raised concerns over too much power vesting in a lord president who “goes rogue”.

She said: “One possibly slightly cheeky question, if I may: in your earlier responses Lady Dorrian you were very clear about the powers that need to reside in the person of the lord president – what happens if that person goes rogue?”

Lady Dorrian, in response, began laughing.

The judge had previously said that the bill, which would assign more power over the courts to the Scottish government, demonstrated “a lack of understanding of fundamental democratic principles”.

Having composed herself, she said: “Well we don’t legislate on the basis that we have to worry about people going rogue. There are provisions that if the lord president becomes incapacitated then the lord justice clerk becomes interim lord president, as it were.”

She added: “I certainly think that we would notice if the lord president went rogue.”

In 2021, Ms Chapman said it was a “dark day for democracy” after the Supreme Court ruled that sections of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill were beyond the competence of Holyrood.

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