The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 establishes a UK Supreme Court to remove the judicial functions from the House of Lords. This court is due to come into operation sometime in 2009.
This particular reform has implication for Scots Law as currently the highest court of appeal for civil cases is the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council hears devolution minutes raised under the Scotland Act 1998.
The Scottish Government has ordered a review of how this will affect Scots Law. The review is to be conducted by Professor Neil Walker of Edinburgh University. Professor Walker will report to the Justice Secretary, Kenny McAskill MSP, by November 2009 (probably after the court has come into operation).
Mr McAskill said,
The establishment of a UK Supreme Court is an important constitutional reform.
It is entirely appropriate that the implications of these changes for the distinctive Scottish legal system are considered in full, in Scotland, and at this time.
Changes to strengthen judicial independence have also been introduced recently by the Scottish Parliament, and it is important to ensure that such significant constitutional changes are compatible with each other and do not compromise the Scottish legal system’s distinctiveness or its full fitness for purpose.
Indeed this is an important constitutional reformfor Scots Law, but does it really require an expensive, year long investigation and report by a top professor from Edinburgh University? Just now I cannot see how much value the report will have, but it will certainly make for interesting reading when it is finally published.