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Private law firms should not be involved in drafting of legislation

CYNICS who fear Scots law becoming a legal land fit for personal injury lawyers in the wake of the overweaning compensation culture which many observers feel is now rife in Scotland will not be reassured to read your report that compensation lawyers are advising the Scottish Government on legislation to reform fatal accident inquiries ("Widow of tug skipper hits out at inquiry delay", The Herald, December 20).

The current Scottish Government has been commendably robust in resisting siren calls from the personal injury solicitor lobby on matters such as necessary rises in civil court administrative fees and, some would say, in declining to fix or extend public or judicial inquiries willy nilly. In the view of many informed observers, private firms of lawyers should not in general be asked to draft or assist in the drafting of legislation in which they may have a stake for their clients but no more of a stake than many other bodies or varied interest groups or firms.

Gus Logan, WS,

24 Coates Gardens, Edinburgh.

THE Scottish Government's consultation paper reflecting proposals to abolish the not proven verdict and corroboration has breached the peace of the Scotland's legal fraternity ("Outcry forces ministers to look again at law reforms", The Herald, December 20). Apparently, the proposals are another example of the "anglicisation" of Scots law – thereby implying that any aspect of English law is, by definition, inherently inferior compared to the merits of Scots law. It is, of course, arguable that the not proven verdict and the principle of corroboration broaden the concept of justice but that is not an argument for the quaint notion that anything "English" is necessarily an affront to the integrity of Scotland's legal system.

That kind of parochial thinking directly contributed to the humiliation of the Scottish legal establishment after the judiciary marginalised human rights law to dismiss Peter Cadder's contention that his rights had been breached by the failure of the police to provide timeous access to a lawyer, subsequent to his arrest. A unanimous decision by the Supreme Court overturned the peculiar decision of Scotland's highest criminal court and thereby protected the human rights of the laity.

A hermetically sealed legal system might foil the "anglicisation" of Scotland's legal system but if such a system prevailed, the Cadder decision would not have been overturned, Scotland's legal system would be fundamentally tainted and the potential for miscarriages of justice would be significantly enhanced.

Thomas Crooks,

81 Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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