Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scots judges emerge from ‘Victorian veil’ as judiciary’s expenses claims set to be published online from November 2010

Diary of Injustice covers Judges expenses claimsDiary of Injustice reveals Scotland’s Court of Session judges & Sheriffs claimed £535K expenses on top of huge salaries. MEDIA ENQUIRIES into the lavish expenses claims & perks of Scotland’s already highly paid judiciary, revealed in two investigations on the costs of Scotland’s “Victorian” justice system, appear to have brought a new level of public openness from the new Judicial Office for Scotland with the sudden announcement that all expenses claims made by Scotland’s top judges, Sheriffs, Sheriff Principals & part-time Sheriffs will now be published online, as has been the case for some time in England & Wales.

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office said : “I can confirm that the Scottish Court Service intends to make available to the public the information that you seek. Details of travel and subsistence expenses claimed by individual salaried judicial office holders since 1 April 2010 will be published on 1 November 2010 and thereafter on a quarterly basis. The information will be published in the Judiciary of Scotland website www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk

The spokesperson went onto comment that since expenses claims are now to be published online, all Freedom of Information requests regarding judicial expenses have now been invalidated under section 27 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 given that the information on expenses claims will be published within the next 12 weeks.

The decision by the Judicial Office to publish expenses claims of Scotland’s judicial office holders comes after my earlier investigations into the expenses claims of Scotland’s judiciary, reported in August : The costs of Scotland's 'Victorian' Justice System : Court of Session judges paid £6.1 million as litigants struggle to obtain hearing dates & here : Justice Delayed ? Not when it comes to expenses claims as high earning Scots judges rake in at least £78K in ‘travel’ claims

As the decision was being taken to publish the expenses claims of judges & sheriffs, the Scottish Government released a final set of statistics in response to a Freedom of Information request, showing the total expenses claims made by all of Scotland’s judicial office holders over the past two years.

Expenses Claims of Scotland's JudiciaryScottish Government FOI release of Judicial Office holder’s expenses claims. The newly released figures reveal that while a Sheriff receives an annual salary of around £128,296 per annum, Scotland’s Sheriffs collectively claimed a further £176,431.37 in expenses in the last financial year 2009/2010, while part time sheriffs who are paid a daily fee of around £575 for each day of service claimed an additional much larger figure of £281,085.07 in expenses. The figures also reveal earlier & current expenses claims of £106,367.09 & £77,259.31 respectively for Scotland’s Court of Session judges (Senators) on salaries ranging from £172,753.00 to the Lord President’s staggering £214,165.00.

The figures make for grim reading in recession hit UK, where it seems expenses claims for high salaried public positions are far from “under control” while the delivery of access to justice in our courts is still at a snail’s pace, as are the now one year old moves to reform Scotland’s “Victorian” justice system, which I reported on recently, here : Civil Courts Review one year on : Scotland’s out-of-reach justice system remains Victorian, untrustworthy and still controlled by vested interests

The Scottish Government admitted in FOI responses 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. However the new policy of publication of all judicial office holder’s expenses claims in Scotland will bring transparency in expenses into line with England & Wales, details of which can be viewed on the English Judiciary’s website, here : Judicial Expenses for England & Wales

A legal insider today admitted some were uneasy over the publication of judicial expenses, although he indicated it was felt in view of media & public interest in expenses claims, there was little option left other than to publish the amounts on the new Judiciary for Scotland website, which I reported on earlier, here : Judiciary of Scotland website launched, expect more break-neck speed judicial reforms around the next 'Victorian' corner …

It was also indicated the expectation was that expenses claims ‘would be better managed and hopefully fall in the wake of publication’.

Again … another thumbs up for the new Judicial Office for Scotland. Little did this Law journalist expect the ‘next Victorian corner’ would be turned in a remarkable, break-neck speed of just seven days later !

This only leaves attending to all the recommendations of the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill’s CIVIL COURTS REVIEW, ensuring an equally speedy implementation of all the reforms our “Victorian” Civil Justice system requires to ensure all Scots have access to justice, unobstructed by those elements of the legal profession who still consider the courts their own business domain, rather than a justice system which should always be open to all.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm very interesting Peter.
It looks to me like the highly paid judges have been topping up their salaries with expenses claims much like all our politicians do!

I wonder who learned from who?

Anonymous said...

Outrageous salaries if you consider how difficult it is getting into court

Anonymous said...

Looks like you pushed them into publication.Good work! although I think they have a cheek throwing out any fois just because they say its coming.

Anonymous said...

Another very large feather in your cap Peter, this would never have happened without your persistance and FOI enquiries.

Now can you please tell me how one goes about becoming a part-time Sheriff ?

Anonymous said...

jobs for the boys or what ?!

Anonymous said...

Why are they waiting for November when you have already published the figures ?

In view of the amounts I think its high time our elected idiots start demanding savings on the bench.

Anonymous said...

£214,165.00 for a judge??

I dont think there's words to describe it!!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 15:26

A good question ... although given the secrecy surrounding the judiciary's expenses I tend to think politicians learned it from the legal establishment ...


# Anonymous @ 15:45

Indeed ... yes .. although one retired Sheriff in an interview tried to argue "the salaries were justified considering the quality of justice in Scottish courts" - I didn't use this quote as its in keeping for another article .. but it does give readers a good indication of the judiciary's thinking on their own costs to society ...

# Anonymous @ 16:01

Yes .. I agree ...

# Anonymous @ 16:39

Thanks ...

If you are thinking of becoming a part-time Sheriff ... being known to, or being a friend of someone already serving in the judiciary might help ...

There's always the Judicial Appointments Board ... as independent as a cat's fifth leg ...

# Anonymous @ 19:08

Yes .. I agree ... the figures should be published now.

I also agree with the concept of cutting back the judiciary's expenses, especially since everyone in a highly paid public position must do their bit to cut down on expenses claims ...

Anonymous said...

Very good Peter

I imagine a few judges will be feeling stabby tonight over your revelations !

Anonymous said...

Your "retired sheriff" is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks there is any "quality of justice in Scottish courts"

Quite simply its mad to even suggest this considering the kinds of injustice we all know take place every day in front of these expenses claiming snouts in the trough !

Anonymous said...

I think anyone might expect judges to claim reasonable expenses but this much on these salaries and with an air its all been very secret and unaccountable ?

Definitely worthy of further investigation and congrats also for your pursuit of the facts.

Anonymous said...

Great work kid I always come along to read your blog when I get time because it really cheers me up there is some guy out there giving it back to lawyers the way you do!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me these people get paid huge salaries to KEEP PEOPLE OUT OF COURT.

Anonymous said...

a massive expenses racket going on in the justice system - now who would have thought that !

again why no newspaper headlines when salmond's £800 on non existent food appeared all over the place ?

Anonymous said...

Its quite funny the Scottish Govt sent you the figures while the Courts lot said the fois were thrown out because of the 12 week rule (which I've never heard used until now)

Anonymous said...

Clearly something fishy going on here if there was no record keeping on expenses as claimed by the Scottish Executive.I'd say there's enough in this admission to assume some members of the judiciary have made expenses claims inconsistent with their duties but we will never really know for sure and probably wouldn't have known a thing if you had not done the foi requests and your investigation.

Anonymous said...

First comment - This is probably why we have never once heard anyone criticising judges for their salaries or expenses UNTIL NOW

A world of their own

Anonymous said...

Well since we pay judges salaries via our taxes I think we have the right to see exactly what they are claiming for on top of what they already get which probably includes fantastic pension schemes most of us could never hope to receive.

Anonymous said...

HOW ANYONE CAN SAY THERE IS QUALITY OF JUSTICE IN SCOTLAND IS BEYOND ME !

CONVICTION OF MEGRAHI IS QUALITY OF JUSTICE ??!!!

Anonymous said...

Your "retired sheriff" is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks there is any "quality of justice in Scottish courts"
==================================
From what I have observed over the years I think their is a certain self delusion in the self regulators. They are clones in one respect, they never think they do any wrong or the public are getting a raw deal.

Sheriffs think members of the public being solicitor barred is correct. With the filth that lawyers are I wonder how many skeletons are in the cupboards of the upper echelons of the legal profession. Every one of them a crooked bastard.

Anonymous said...

You are upsetting these crooks Peter, but of course their dishonesty gives you a great deal to report on. Super blog.

I noticed a couple of Law Firms have taken legal action against some websites. that is rich, they want to sue victims of crooked lawyers for reporting them to prevent other members of the public falling into the same trap.

If lawyers really want to restore their professions reputation they should be helping victims of lawyers not oppressing them further. Bunch of lawyer bastards.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

jobs for the boys or what ?!

28 September 2010 18:05

Spot on! and didn't Lord Hamilton once say he needed the power to tap someone on the shoulder he knew to be a judge ?

I think that says it all really

Anonymous said...

Replying to a comment made earlier I think there should be an investigation into these judiciary expenses and questions asked why no register was kept.Keep at them Peter!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your regulars will criticise me for my comment however I have the same right to make comment.As a sole practitioner I cant make anywhere near the annual salary of a judicial office holder never mind their expenses claims yet every day I face enormous difficulties just trying to get my clients legal aid.Quite clearly the way we practice justice in Scotland needs a fuller review than anyone has yet been able to achieve.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 29 September 2010 21:59

Yes I agree .. however, dont forget to speak up in public regarding your concerns and the points raised in this article ... especially with regard to the implementation of Lord Gill's Civil Courts Review recommendations .. and then some more ...

Anonymous said...

@21:59

Speaking out will incur a visit from the Law Society's audit team.Forget it.Democracy is fine for the public not the profession.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your regulars will criticise me for my comment however I have the same right to make comment. As a sole practitioner I cant make anywhere near the annual salary of a judicial office holder never mind their expenses claims yet every day I face enormous difficulties just trying to get my clients legal aid. Quite clearly the way we practice justice in Scotland needs a fuller review than anyone has yet been able to achieve.
================================
I do not know you, but the legal profession as a whole cannot be trusted now. You are correct about having the right to comment but let us say you are the most honest lawyer in Scotland. How do we recognise you? I do not want to criticise you, just point out what you already know, the Law Society, Mr MacAskill, SLCC are a disgrace, the ultimate in lawyer protection. No lawyer can be trusted until self regulation ends.

It is like the police stopping a drunk driver and letting him go because he is a serving police officer. I do not believe this happens, but self regulation allows lawyers to ruin clients with impunity.

As for Judges expenses, they are just the same as politicians, unaccountable until now.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the further restrictions in legal aid provision must be fought.

And let us not forget that the civil legal aid budget has for decades been treated as a very poor relation - despite the fact that the European Human Rights Act requires all applicants whether involved in Civil or Criminal proceedings be accorded the same entitlements in Law.

Anonymous said...

I'm for more questions on why judges expenses havent been published yet.Keep digging!

Anonymous said...

Great blog Mr Cherbi

Anonymous said...

Claiming civil legal aid is a nightmare now and little wonder people cannot gain 'access to justice' when all the taxpayers money is going on expenses of the judiciary and SLAB's own officials.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your regulars will criticise me for my comment however I have the same right to make comment.As a sole practitioner I cant make anywhere near the annual salary of a judicial office holder never mind their expenses claims yet every day I face enormous difficulties just trying to get my clients legal aid.Quite clearly the way we practice justice in Scotland needs a fuller review than anyone has yet been able to achieve.

29 September 2010 21:59

So you are going to speak out right ? rather than just making the comment and doing nothing to follow it up ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your regulars will criticise me for my comment however I have the same right to make comment.As a sole practitioner I cant make anywhere near the annual salary of a judicial office holder never mind their expenses claims yet every day I face enormous difficulties just trying to get my clients legal aid.Quite clearly the way we practice justice in Scotland needs a fuller review than anyone has yet been able to achieve.

if you speak out bye bye practicing certificate'