One of Scotland's most senior judges has attacked the UK Supreme Court as "relatively remote" and "far removed from the practical realities" of Scots Law.

Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk, said the London-based court was having a "depressing influence" on justice north of the border.

Echoing remarks previously made by both other senior judicial figures and the SNP, Lord Carloway warned that the British court now wielded more influence on law that formal reform bodies.

The judge, whose real name is Colin Sutherland, has himself been at the heart of recent controversies over legal reform, most notably championing the end of corroboration, the ancient Scots Law safeguard that two two pieces of evidence are required for a conviction.

Lord Carloway's work on corroboration - now subject to a further review of its implications - was itself sparked by the UK Supreme Court's landmark 2011 decision that the human rights of a young man, Peter Cadder, were breached when he denied access to a solicitor when interviewed by police.

Lord Carloway raised the UK Supreme Court's role in a newly published speech made to a conference of Commonwealth Law Reform Agencies in Edinburgh.

His point was that the London court appeared to have more scope to reform law that the very bodies set up to lead such work, such as the Scottish Law Commission.

Lord Carloway said: "The Supreme Court, which has hitherto sat only in London, may be deemed to exercise greater autonomy in the selection of topics for the reform of Scots civil law than the Scottish Law Commission itself."

The UK Supreme Court also has a huge influence over Scots criminal law because, although not the final court of appeal, it is able to judge important issues of human rights, such as the Cadder case.

Lord Carloway continued: "In some respects, the oversight of Scots law from a position that is relatively remote, far removed from the practical realities of operating the Scottish legal system and of Scots society as a whole, is apt to have a depressing influence on the efforts of those operating positively within the jurisdiction."

Other Scottish legal figures have attacked the Supreme Court before - including many staunch unionists who are eager to uphold the terms of the 1707 treaty.

Lord Drummond Young in 2013 said accused the Supreme Court of being willing "to overturn well-established Scottish practice without having much regard to the underlying substance of the law".

However, senior defence lawyers have warmly welcomed the Supreme Court's strong emphasis on human rights, not least on Cadder.

Lord Carloway stressed that London judges - two of whom are always Scottish - would not have the final say on the law. It was always up to Holyrood to legislate to undo judge-made law from London if it wished.

Scottish ministers have clashed with the Supreme Court before, with former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill even warning he would withdraw funding for the tribunal.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond condemned the court's 2011 decision to quash the conviction of wife killer Nat Fraser, who has since been retried and re-convicted.

Lord Carloway also warned of the downside of all judicial activism in law reform - whether in Scotland or south of the border. Citing recent efforts to use both statute and judicial decisions to re-define rape and breach off the peace, he said some changes had "undoubtedly resulted in flurries of new, and often ingenious, arguments in the many appeals which have been generated by the well intentioned changes."

On what appeared to be a personal note, the judge also cautioned that judges who pursue reform could face "real hostility" and be undermined by their peers.

Lord Carloway, Scotland's second most senior judge, also made an impassioned plea for the justice system to embrace the digital age - by publishing all legal developments and court decisions online.

He said: "There is little merit in a reputedly good legal system of uncertain or practically unknowable extent.

"Yet our public records of our laws, including those online, as they must be in the modern era, remain perpetually incomplete and thus 'unreliable'. This is an issue of substantial constitutional importance."