This week Scotland votes on independence. Politicians campaigning are not in a contemplative mood. It is left, then, to the Law Society of Scotland to create the space for a debate which becomes urgent once the votes are counted.
Its president Alistair Morris is not over-claiming when he says the Society has been ‘a leading and non-partisan voice in the debate on Scotland’s future’, a theme it continues with a conference on 2-3 October in Edinburgh: ‘Law in Scotland – The people’s verdict, so what now?’
If Scotland votes for independence, certain legal topics should immediately come to the fore. The SNP, for example, would like Scotland to become a centre for international legal disputes, but more urgent for business confidence is to state the new country’s ability to recognise commercial court judgments.
Independence or further devolution would also have legal consequences for England and Wales. The Scottish parliament already acts to speed up law reform south of the border, by demonstrating that objections to change are without foundation.
Both options shine a spotlight on the idea of a written constitution here. Westminster lawmakers have been indifferent to the contradiction of drafting scores of written constitutions for countries that secured independence from empire. But this example is very close to home.