The UK Supreme Court would lose jurisdiction over Scottish cases in the event of independence, the Scottish government said today.
The white paper on independence, Scotland’s Future, confirms that the existing Inner House of the Court of Session and the High Court, sitting as a Court of Appeal, would become an independent Scotland’s supreme court.
The Law Society of Scotland welcomed the announcement, but said that questions remain over the court’s role.
‘The creation of a Scottish Supreme Court is more than just a naming exercise,’ said Bruce Beveridge, president of the Law Society of Scotland. He called on the Scottish government to provide further information on what powers a Scottish supreme court would possess, particularly whether it would be able to strike down legislation.
‘It is imperative that any new constitution ensures sufficient checks and balances exist in the legislative process,’ Beveridge said.
The society said that, despite the white paper’s clarifications, questions remain to be answered on both sides of the independence debate.
On proposals to keep sterling as Scotland’s national currency, Beveridge repeated the society’s call on the government to set out contingency plans if a currency union proved unworkable.
‘Given the different positions being taken by the UK and Scottish governments, it is difficult to understand the most likely currency arrangements if the Scottish people were to vote for independence next year,’ he said. ’It is hard to have a proper debate against a background of uncertainty on such an important issue as this.’
Both governments have a responsibility to address that uncertainty, he said. ‘The Scottish government should be setting out its contingency plans if its preference on currency cannot be achieved. Equally, the UK government needs to be clearer on why it could or would not support such a shared currency arrangement.’
On European Union membership, Beveridge said the white paper ‘goes a long way to set out what the Scottish government believes is the route to EU membership, which is welcome’. Membership would be central to the legal status, economic prosperity and international standing of an independent Scotland, in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, he said.
The Law Society of Scotland said it would will be looking closely at the white paper and provide a detailed written response in due course.
The referendum on Scottish independence will take place on 18 September next year.