Scotland Act 1998 Case Study

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The Scotland Act 1998 was responsible for the devolution of significant areas of civil law such as family law, planning law and bankruptcy law to Holyrood. The administrative workings of the Scottish legal systems are far removed from that from the rest of the UK. This includes the structures of the courts, court procedures and the funding of legal aid. (Scottish Parliament Information Centre, 2014). In Scotland, there are 3 main types of civil courts, namely, the Sheriff Courts, Court of Session and since 2009 the UK Supreme Court.

By far the most important and most widely used court in Scotland is the Sheriff Court. Since 1975, Scotland has been divided into 6 sheriffdoms with 142 sheriffs in post, there are currently 39 Sheriff Courts
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The creation of the UK Supreme Court under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c 4) meant that the most senior judges were now separated from the Parliamentary process. (Legislation.gov.uk, 2005). The 2005 Constitutional reform also removed role of the Lord Chancellor, who’s role was previously seen to be undemocratic due to an overlap of this duties within the three branches of government in the appointment of justices. This role was removed in favour of the Independent Appointments Committee (JAC) which was set up to appoint justices to the supreme court making the entire appointment process clearer and more accountable. (Walker,1992). The Supreme Court is currently presiding over by 12 Justices, who are tasked with maintaining the high standards set by the Appellate Committee. (Supremecourt.uk, 2009). A recent example of an contact case appeal submitted to the Supreme court comes in the form of Carlyle (Appellant) v Royal Bank of Scotland Plc UKSC 13. The fcats were that the cases concerned a dispute between a property developer and a bank over the provision and purpose of a loan. Mr Carlyle met with the bank and made it clear that the money would be used to build a house as well as buy land, the bank approved this. However, at a later date the bank disagreed with the building element of the loan and raised action against Mr Carlyle for £1,449,660. The court decided that the bank entered into a legally binding contract with Mr Carlyle, which included the building of a house and must respected the contract and allowed Mr Carlyle’s appeal. As well as being the chief appeals court in the land, the Supreme court is also concerned with the law relating to the devolution of powers. These are cases about if the devolved governments have acted within their respective powers or if they have failed to comply with any duties imposed on them. (McLaren and Bisacre, 2016).

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