This week saw Holyrood's Justice Committee complete its evidence hearings on the subject of corroboration, as it considers the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill at stage 1.
There have been no real surprises in the points made in evidence before the committee. But the hearings were notable for the cntribution from the Lord Justice General, Lord Gill, claiming to speak for all the Senators of the College of Justice apart from the instigator of abolition Lord Carloway, who expressed his fears that to remove the rule could have "consequences that at the moment are unknowable but could be very adverse".
Calling for a "pause for thought" in view of the degree of opposition, he agreed with the suggestion that corroboration should be taken out of the bill and dealt with separately – something that could be done quickly.
Lord Gill's comments reflect Lord Hope's interview with Holyrood magazine earlier, where he described the current proposals as "potentially quite dangerous", and suggested that a more selective way of dealing with the problem of sexual assault cases might be preferable.
Whether following these cues or not, in the wake of the final Justice Committee evidence session on the subject, the Law Society of Scotland pulled out of the hat the announcement that it has invited the main interest groups lobbying on one side or other of the debate, to talks on whether some agreed approach can be found.
This could be the last, best hope for finding some alternative to the otherwise seemingly inevitable parliamentary showdown on the subject, in which the odds would be stacked in favour of the Justice Secretary through the Government's majority. Even if the Justice Committee asks some pointed questions in its report on the bill, it would be surprising at this stage if it were to state outright opposition to the corroboration provisions - and bearing in mind its record with the legal aid reforms a year ago, it has form for threatening to go against the Government, only to fall into line when it comes to the stage 2 section by section scrutiny.
Could there be a solution along the lines mooted by Lord Hope, with a more customised provision for domestic or sexual cases? It is probably in the interests of all the groups on the Society's invitation list to explore the possibility. Even if such a provision only serves as a pilot to test the various claims and counterclaims surrounding abolition, it will have achieved some purpose.
If, just if, something were to be devised that had the support both of Crown Office and of Women's Aid and related bodies, Mr MacAskill would find it very much harder to justify holding out for general abolition, as the support to date of these groups has been one of the key points he has invoked in his favour.
His opponents would do well to examine the issue afresh and see what proposals they can formulate. A willingness to treat the problem cases differently may be the price to pay for preserving the benefits of the rule for the generality.
As an aside, the Justice Secretary should certainly be called on to explain his remarks on television, claiming that "We're not going to have people convicted on one single evidence from one single witness" as a result of his proposals. If the abolition of the rule doesn't mean that, what does it mean? The lallandspeatworrier blog has a fine comment on this that I could not improve on. Will our MSPs hold Mr MacAskill to account?