Thursday, November 17, 2016

JUDICIAL REGISTER: Evidence lodged by Judicial Investigators, campaigners, judges & journalists in four year Holyrood probe on judges’ interests - points to increased public awareness of judiciary, expectation of transparency in court

Judicial register required for openness in court. EVIDENCE accumulated as a result of a four year probe by the Scottish Parliament on proposals to require judges to register their interests - points to the inescapable conclusion there is a need for a fully published and publicly available register of interests for the judiciary.

The overall impression reached by many involved in the debate around judicial interests is that creating such a register with full declarations by judges will enhance public trust in judges, and bring the judiciary into line with transparency rules which apply to all other branches of Government.

The proposal to bring greater transparency to Scotland’s judiciary - Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary - first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

A full debate on the proposal to require judges to declare their interests was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 - ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

A full history, list of evidence, Parliamentary hearings and submissions from all sides of the debate including campaigners, legal academics, both of Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewers, law related organisations, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s top judges in relation to Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary is published for readers and those with an interest in how the judiciary operate, below:

Date Petition Lodged: 07 December 2012

Petition aim: Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

Petition History:

Summary:

8 January 2013: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Lord President, the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland. Link to Media report - Declare your interests M'Lords

5 March 2013: The Committee agreed to invite the Lord President to give evidence at a future meeting and seek further information on the proposed New Zealand legislation. Link to Media report - ‘Methinks the Lord President doth protest too much’

16 April 2013: The Committee agreed to write again to the Lord President and seek views from the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. Link to Media report - What is there to hide?

25 June 2013: The Committee agreed to invite the Judicial Complaints Reviewer to give evidence at a future meeting. The Committee also agreed to write to Dr Kennedy Graham MP, New Zealand Parliament. Link to Media report - top judge 'should reconsider his position on Scotland Act'

17 September 2013: The Committee took evidence from Moi Ali, Judicial Complaints Reviewer. The Committee agreed to write to Dr Kennedy Graham MP, New Zealand Parliament, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Court Service and the Scottish Government. The Committee also agreed to consider the debate that took place during the passage of the Scotland Act 1998 on section 23. Link to Media report - evidence of Moi Ali, Judicial Complaints Reviewer

JCR Moi Ali gives evidence to Scottish Parliament on a proposed Register of Judicial Interests

26 November 2013: The Committee agreed to defer future consideration of the petition until after the meeting between the Convener, Deputy Convener and the Lord President. Link to Official Report 26 November 2013

28 January 2014: The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the petition pending receipt of a letter from the Lord President. Link to Media report - Private Parly

4 March 2014: The Committee agreed to seek time in the Chamber for a debate on the petition. The Committee also agreed to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government. Link to Media report - Recuse me not

6 May 2014: The Committee agreed to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government. Link to Media report - MSPs seek views from scripted top judge

9 October 2014: The Committee held a debate in the Chamber on the subject of the petition. Link to Media report - Debating the judges - full debate at Holyrood, video & official report

28 October 2014: The Committee agreed to write to the Lord President and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. The Committee also agreed to invite the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to give evidence at a future meeting. Link to Media report - Secretary for the judge

9 December 2014: The Committee took evidence from Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, and Kay McCorquodale, Civil Law and Legal Systems Division, Scottish Government. The Committee agreed to consider the petition again in the new year to reflect on the evidence received today, the annual report of the previous Judicial Complaints Reviewer and the new rules and guidance to be published by the Lord President. The Committee also agreed to write to the new Judicial Complaints Reviewer. Link to Media report - Too many secrets

12 May 2015: The Committee agreed to invite the Judicial Complaints Reviewer to give evidence at a future meeting. Link to Media report - You ran M'Lord

23 June 2015: The Committee took evidence from Gillian Thompson OBE, Judicial Complaints Reviewer. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, Lord Gill and, when appointed, the new Lord President. Link to Media report - Register, M'Lord

JCR Gillian Thompson OBE evidence to Scottish Parliament: Register of Interests for Judges Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 23 June 2015

10 November 2015: The Committee took evidence from Rt Hon Lord Gill, former Lord President of the Court of Session. The Committee agreed to reflect on the evidence heard at a future meeting. Link to Media report - Judge Another Day

Evidence of Lord Gill before the Scottish Parliament 10 November 2015

1 December 2015: The Committee agreed to write to the new Lord President once appointed. Link to Media report - Evidence, M'Lord

23 February 2016: The Committee agreed to include the petition in its legacy paper for consideration by the Session 5 Public Petitions Committee. In doing so, the Committee agreed to write to Professor Alan Paterson, University of Strathclyde. Link to Media report - Declare it, M'Lord

29 September 2016: The Committee agreed to invite the Lord President and Professor Alan Paterson to give oral evidence at a future meeting. Link to Media report - Question Time, M'Lord

Click on each link to view written Submissions to the Scottish Parliament:

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note the Law Society of Scotland were first to reply..

Anonymous said...

deffo odd judges are so dead against this when we should have registers of interest for everyone!

Anonymous said...

After all this still no register?
What are msps waiting on?End of the world?

Anonymous said...

Compare Moi Ali and Gillian Thompson telling the truth about how judges behave against the arrogant Lord Gill and his threatening demeanor look at the way he turns every question into a demand or a threat compared with the two judicial complaints reviewers who answer the questions properly and say all what is really happening.Shocking really this is going on for so long!

Anonymous said...

I watched that entire clip of Gill being questioned by the msps and really there was a lot more he should have been asked but they just let him go on and on as if he was sitting as a judge in his court.John Wilson scored some big points in his questions!Gill didn't like him at all!

Anonymous said...

They will not want a Register because of retrospective cases too where people have lost cases against those who own the Judiciary by crossing their palms with silver. Yes M'Luds you are bought and paid for and you know it.

Anonymous said...

We all know this register should exist so when are msps going to act?How much more evidence do they need to actually do something instead of talking about it all the time?

Anonymous said...

A very interesting read as always and conveniently places all the evidence in one article.

Reading through the weight of evidence relating to your register of interests for judges, there is ample scope to presume members of the judiciary have conflicting interests in significant numbers of cases.

I came to this conclusion as I cannot think of any other reason why the most powerful legal figures in the land would resist such a basic question of transparency for so long.

I'd like to ask the following question.

Would you say their failure to register interests or recuse themselves in cases relates more to civil law cases such as damages claims or criminal law as in trials or appeals?

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 18 November 2016 at 13:29

Could be a slight tilt in favour of high value civil actions and cases involving claims or challenges against professions and public bodies, however the issue of judges failing to register interests and failures to recuse cuts across civil and criminal cases in equal measure.

Anonymous said...

Yes totally agree about time judges have to fill in their own register but make sure someone else holds the information in case they 'forget' to write in most of their assets and everything else we should be told about them.

Anonymous said...

There is increased public awareness of judiciary, expectation of transparency in court. The Judges and those who have bought them won't like this, but I think its wonderful. Supercilious twits with far too much power for the public good.

Anonymous said...

The way that Scottish Judges have behaved shows that they do not have a character above reproach.

The best way forward is to sack them all for bringing the judiciary into disrepute and then ask them to reapply for their jobs but this time for a quarter of their super inflated salaries and with the proviso that they need to declare all of their interests, not just to prevent corruption but to remove the current perception of corruption.

The law society of Scotland is a criminal organisation, who do deals with the crown office to keep their pals out of jail.

The excuse they give for Scottish lawyers being saved from being sent to jail is that they would get beaten up by all of the former clients they have stitched up.

Scottish lawyers have become lazy and corrupt under the law society's protection racket and it is a disgrace that they con the public out of 1200 Million Pounds a year.

The standards of Scottish lawyers have steadily fallen to historically low levels of efficacy and morals that they should get paid a maximum of £12 per hour and even this would be hard to justify.

I would say to send these crooked Scottish lawyers to jail, where they can experience true justice for once in their lives, maybe then they would learn to abide by the law.

Anonymous said...

If the Sheriffs and Judges continue to act in their own interests by not declaring their interests, then they are saying, 'You plebians must take our word for it that we are not a bunch of crooks.'

It is clear therefore that we must have a body of men and woman true and just to stand above the Sheriffs and judges, who are answerable to Justice and can demonstrate to the Sheriffs and Judges how they should act to comply with the law and to comply with their job function.

Anonymous said...

My God, 4 years and STILL no decision. Keeping pushing, this must be made law.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to your next report DOI.

Anonymous said...

A fantastic blog for those in, or planning to join, the legal profession.

A copy should be sent to every US and UK University offering law as a subject.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4213998/A-critique-greed-Britain-s-lawyers.html