May I briefly comment on three of the very many really interesting articles and reports in the March 2013 Journal?

Apropos the present lively debate about the desirability or otherwise of separate legal representation for lender and borrower in residential property transactions, it surprises me that this matter was not definitively addressed in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s when, more often than not, a solicitor acting for a would-be purchaser of residential property would actually actively seek out and arrange the requisite mortgage for and on behalf of the client.

Apropos Geoffrey Mitchell’s excellent article, in which he expresses his preference for the two dissenting Supreme Court opinions in the English case R (on the application of Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013] UKSC 1, I am of opinion that Mr Mitchell has gone straight to the crux of the matter when he writes: “why should it matter that [the advice] was given to [the client] by a lawyer, and not by another?” (emphasis mine).

This perceptive question unwraps the illogicality of which the President of the court (Lord Neuberger) speaks, namely, the fact that the solicitor or barrister in question will not necessarily be a specialist in the given branch of the law on which advice is sought, whereas, for example, an actuary, architect, or engineer giving the advice may well possess the necessary relevant expert legal knowledge. Hence the anomaly: even a legally “qualified professional” may be properly qualified, i.e. legally entitled, to practise his or her profession, without being qualified, i.e., possessing the expertise, to advise on certain matters.

Apropos the call in some quarters for a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill to be introduced into the Scottish Parliament, I find it interesting to recall that, whereas many of our present judges hold, directly or indirectly, shares of one kind or another in companies of various sorts, it is not so many years ago that Court of Session judges were allowed to own shares only in joint-stock banks.

George Lawrence Allen,
Solicitor, formerly advocate, Edinburgh