The Law Society has been closely following developments in relation to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill and proposals to abolish the requirement for corroboration. The Society noted the concession made by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice on 14 January, to carry out a review which will also involve looking whether additional safeguards are required. Whilst this move is certainly welcome, we do not think leaving section 57 on the face of the Bill with a subsequent review of additional safeguards is the best way to proceed.
We consider that if the Scottish Government remains intent on abolishing the requirement for corroboration, it should take place after there has been a full review. This would allow for the interconnections of the corroboration requirement, and all other aspects of the criminal justice system, to be properly explored.
Our firm view is that the appropriate way to proceed would be to remove the provision from the Bill, and create a statutory review panel, which would conduct the review and then introduce a short Bill to give effect to the review's recommendations. The Society would of course strongly support and participate in such an exercise.