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Opening of the Legal Year


Sep 27, 2021

The Lord President, Lord Carloway, introduced the opening of the legal year today in a physically distanced ceremony held at Parliament House.


Although the courts now run throughout the year, the traditional ceremony continues and today included speeches from Lord Carloway, the Dean of Faculty Roddy Dunlop and the President of the Law Society Ken Dalling.

Lord Carloway said: “The cry of ‘it’s aye been’ cannot prevail. Equally, as we seek to take advantage of the new technology, three key principles must be preserved: access to justice, fairness and transparency. Over the last year we have travelled great distances and sometimes at a high speed. We have seized the momentum and responded to the challenges. The reward of having a new vibrant, progressive, digitally enabled courts and tribunals service is now within our grasp. This is an opportunity to be bold. I therefore look forward to working with you all in this spirit.”

He spoke of the priority in dealing with criminal business in the courts to address the backlog, saying: “The cinema model has worked well. I extend my thanks to all those who participated in the creation of this world class innovation which has told us a great deal about how we could modify our practices and procedures to accommodate modern thinking.”

He discussed the new Scottish Civil Justice Council’s consultation paper which is now available, saying: “This building, and its satellites, will remain the centre of a modern legal system for generations to come … Once the SCJC has, in a balanced and measured way, ingathered the responses, we will reach a decision on the direction of travel. Hopefully, we will be able to take the vast majority of the members of the profession with us on that journey which, I am certain, will lead to a much more efficient and, partly because of that, a much fairer system for us all – and by that I mean all court users. I wish to stress, however, that this can only be achieved if we manage to work together in a constructive manner to reach a consensus”.

He extended his gratitude to the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland, together with the other legal institutions represented at the ceremony, for their valuable assistance including criticism where it has been constructive.

He also welcomed 12 new Queens Counsel addressing them each in turn.

Finally, he also paid tribute to two senators who are retiring from the Bench, Lord Menzies and Lady Smith.

He expressed his gratitude for their diligence and assistance over the years, saying: "The knowledge and expertise which they brought to the courts and tribunals has been considerable. Their absence from this bench will be tangible. That can be noted in the minutes of proceedings. I am in no doubt that they will continue to carry out important work, away from the bench.  On behalf of the College of Justice, I wish them both the very best in their future endeavours, both professional and personal.”

Read the full speech.

27 September 2021