We never seem to be far from the next major consultation, from whatever the source, but this autumn has produced a bumper crop. Just to keep people even more on their toes, some have had only limited time for response, even if through pressure of outside circumstances.
The Society has been as prolific as anyone lately. Not only have we had to consider the future regulation of the profession (responses are still being pondered by Council), but there is now the substantial paper proposing a restructuring of legal aid in Scotland. This was released too late to be considered in this issue, but the President's column leads with it, and we hope to return to the subject next month, when we should also be able to compare the long-awaited thoughts of the Scottish Government. At least with this one we have until late January to respond.
Not so the paper issued by the Post-corroboration Safeguards Review under Lord Bonomy, which offered only six weeks to consider and respond to a range of measures proposed by a body of experts to help prevent miscarriages of justice when (and we have to assume when, not if, as Lord Bonomy stated at the roadshow meetings) the corroboration rule is abolished. Yet, as John Scott QC points out (see p 5), these are extensive and far-reaching ideas which could well be of benefit to our criminal procedure in any event.
It is now four years since the Cadder decision set the whole ball rolling. Since then we have had a series of reviews and consultations, from Lord Carloway onwards, each with strict timescales for completion, but none of which being given proper scope or resources to consider the effects of any recommendations on the system as a whole. Surely one body with the time and space to do a proper job could have taken us further forward by now. This is an object lesson in political short-termism proving counterproductive in the long run.
One final consultation exercise is worth a mention, and it's another one from the Society. Few members ever attend an annual or special general meeting, unless by proxy, yet these meetings take some of the most important decisions affecting members. So should it be possible to vote directly, electronically or by post, in advance of the meeting? There are issues to consider, but at least this one won't take up much of your time. Click here for the link.