Will police, doctors and other public ­servants face more malicious allegations of misconduct if corroboration is abolished?

And if they do, how significant will the impact be, in terms of potential miscarriages of justice, and in terms of the wider effect on their careers?

As ever, with this polarising topic, it is important to separate out the real issues. The main justification for removing the centuries-old requirement for independent corroboration of a crime is that too many cases are currently dropped for lack of it. In particular, there is a suggestion that rape and domestic violence cases are especially hard to corroborate and bring to trial.

The system is denying redress to thousands of victims, according to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who pleaded with lawyers to back the plans at the SNP conference.

But having cases proceed is not the same as having them succeed. There is an evidence gap at the heart of Mr MacAskill's policy, as interested groups have already pointed out.

The minister argues that no other country in the civilised world requires corroboration in the same way Scots law does. However, as he well knows, this does not mean other countries have higher conviction rates for rape or similar crimes. They may bring more cases to trial, but they do not bring more offenders to justice.

Critics argue that achieving more convictions by removing legal safeguards is not a valid way to proceed. Some believe the change will actually result in fewer convictions, and accuse Mr MacAskill of offering false hope to victims of rape.

The latest claim by some leading legal figures is that police could be be accused of assault, social workers or doctors tarnished by reports of abuse or teachers could face claims of sexual misconduct, all without the need for a corroborating witness. Careers could be tarnished, workers suspended.

Yet there is a difference between bringing cases to court and raising allegations, malicious or otherwise, in the workplace. It is not self-evident that removing the need for corroboration in the courts is likely to be mirrored in wider society.

The issue here is really one of workplace policies and what happens in the courts is neither here nor there.

If policy at a local authority, health board or at Police Scotland, for example, dictates that an employee must be suspended while claims are investigated, that usually holds regardless of whether or not an alleged offence was witnessed.

Unfounded allegations can be hugely damaging, but that is already the case. It is for human resources departments to determine how best to handle allegations of misconduct, balancing the needs of the complainant and the alleged offender, who should remain innocent until proven guilty.

Opponents of a change in the law argue unions should get involved in the corroboration debate, in the face of the possible consequences to frontline workers. This is not necessary, But the focus should remain on the need for adequate checks and balances before this long-standing principle of Scottish justice is consigned to history.