Monday, August 30, 2010

Justice Delayed ? Not when it comes to expenses claims as high earning Scots judges rake in at least £78K in ‘travel’ claims

Court of Session Parliament HouseScotland’s top judges at the Court of Session claimed £78K expenses on top of huge salaries. EXPENSES CLAIMS of Scotland’s already high earning 34 judges at the country’s highest court, the Court of Session in Edinburgh topped a whopping ‘recorded’ sum of £78,988 in the last financial year, according to details released by the Scottish Government in response to a Freedom of Information request, continuing my reporting on the costs of Scotland’s justice system, which I initially covered here : The costs of Scotland's 'Victorian' Justice System : Court of Session judges paid £6.1 million as litigants struggle to obtain hearing dates

However, it transpires the amount claimed by judges may be higher as the Scottish Government, who were & still are responsible for paying judges salaries, ranging from a mere £172,753.00 for ‘outer house judges’ to the Lord President’s staggering £214,165.00 now admit there were no details held of the individual expenses claims for judges on a central database as the accounts system only recorded the totals charged against headings such as Travel and Subsistence.

The total Travel & Subsistence claims from Scotland’s 34 Senators of the College of Justice for the financial year 2009-10 was £78,988 of which, £16,299 was for Inner House judges, and the remaining £62,689 was for Outer House. The Scottish Government said the only other expenses they would record in the accounts are the Wig & Gown allowance, a one-off payment when a new judge is appointed. It transpired no such payments were made during 2009-10.

To the figures into perspective against the salaries of Scotland’s Court of Session judges :

Inner House

First Division

Lord Hamilton, the Lord President (Civil) and the Lord Justice General receives £214,165.00 p.a. Lord Kingarth, Lord Eassie, Lord Reed & Lord Hardie each receive £196,707.00 p.a.

Second Division

Lord Gill, Lord Justice Clerk receives £206,857.00 p.a. Lord Osborne , Lady Paton, Lord Carloway, Lord Clarke & Lord Mackay of Drumadoon each receive £196,707.00 p.a.

Outer House (all 23 judges receive £172,753.00 p.a.)

Lord Bonomy, Lord Menzies, Lord Drummond Young, Lord Emslie, Lady Smith, Lord Brodie, Lord Bracadale, Lady Dorrian, Lord Hodge, Lord Glennie, Lord Kinclaven, Lord Turnbull, Lady Clark of Calton, Lord Brailsford, Lord Uist, Lord Malcolm, Lord Matthews, Lord Woolman, Lord Pentland, Lord Bannatyne, Lady Stacey, Lord Tyre, & Lord Doherty

Lord Hamilton judicialScotland’s Lord President Lord Hamilton heads the new Scottish Court Service Corporate Body, a duty of which will be to keep an eye on expenses. The disclosure from the Scottish Government went onto state that although Scottish Government remains responsible for paying judges salaries, from 1 April 2010 responsibility for paying all other judicial expenses transferred to the Judicial Office as part of the new Scottish Court Service corporate body, established following implementation of the Judiciary & Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

The Lord President, Lord Hamilton is of course, the head of the new Scottish Court Service corporate body, which I reported on earlier this year, here : Scottish Courts Service becomes an ‘arm's length’ independent quango led by Lord President & corporate board

While the Scottish Government apparently did not hold details of judges individual expenses claims, the situation in England & Wales is markedly different, with all judicial expenses being registered, where ‘the expenses claims of High Court Judges and above are recorded in such a way that they can be attributed to individual judges and published at regular intervals’.

Details of the English judicial expenses system and figures can be found here : Judicial Expenses for England & Wales, and as expenses are now to be ‘held centrally’ by the new Judicial Office, it is to be hoped a similar air of transparency regarding judicial expenses claims will prevail in Scotland, with all expenses details being published online, in keeping with the rest of the UK.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Comforting to know the 34 judges are so well looked after in terms of their expenses yet hardly anyone can get a date inside of a year in the Court of Session for their case to be heard !

Anonymous said...

I agree that individual's expenses should be clearly identified to each person, and would suggest that this would be a small but welcome step in restoring some degree of confidence in the Judiciary......everyone knows the Law Society of Scotland and its members are sadly beyond redemption.

Anonymous said...

Why no details of the expenses released ?

Smells a bit fishy to me

Anonymous said...

"Wig & Gown allowance" !!!

How "victorian" is that !

Anonymous said...

Downing St website shows the Prime Minister's salary as £142,500.
Why do these judges think they are worth more ?
Are their salaries in tune with their delivery of justice ?
I think not !

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the judges wont be too keen on your idea of publishing all their claims online!

Lunch @ Restaurant 2pm will become "books"
Underage Rent boy @ shopping centre 9.15pm will be put down as "research"

Anonymous said...

What are the odds these expenses claims will fall if published online as they should be ?

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when the Judiciary is entirely divorced from any independent regulation or oversight, they become a law unto themselves.

Anonymous said...

So Lord Hamilton is now in charge of the entire court service AND expenses claims ?!

Not much chance of impartiality here !

Anonymous said...

I'm not against employees being able to claim legitimate expenses but there has to be some cut off point when salaries are on the scales you are reporting here Mr Cherbi and just because they are judges does not give them the entitlement to any special privileges on how much money they are paid by taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

What a joke of a judiciary.
Just ask Megrahi or anyone else wrongly convicted if this bunch are worth their salaries or expenses.I bet the answer would be a big "NO"

Anonymous said...

Judging by the Scottish Government's disclosure this seeks a very weak accounting system for such an important aspect of the justice system or was it left this vague so the judges basically had a free out of pocket expenses system to enlarge their already outrageous salaries just as politicians have been doing all these years ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Comforting to know the 34 judges are so well looked after in terms of their expenses yet hardly anyone can get a date inside of a year in the Court of Session for their case to be heard !

30 August 2010 14:01

SPOT ON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

From the salaries quoted its easy seen the tail is wagging the dog here with judges getting what they want in wages and expenses

Anonymous said...

Considering the state of the economy and job losses I think people have a right to be aggrieved over any expenses claims when someone is getting paid as much as Lord Hamilton so thanks for highlighting this issue Mr Cherbi and actually I think its the first time I've ever read about salaries and expenses of Scottish judges.

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments on this article.

Any salary or expense claim paid for by public funds should be published in the interests of transparency - whether the recipient likes it or not.To refuse publication, or hide behind secrecy & suspicious exemptions of disclosure is indication enough something less than honest is going on ... as we saw with the Westminster expenses scandal and several similar expenses scandals at the Scottish Parliament over the years ...

Anonymous said...

Self regulators, criminals who screw and opress the taxpayer. Rough Justice indeed.

Anonymous said...

For all the pride of the Scots justice system it is ultimately corrupt and always will be no matter what reforms are made to it - for the simple reason all of the reforms are implemented by the same people who control the justice system.