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Row over interference of UK Supreme Court in Scotland's legal system

Scottish Government sets up a group of experts to look into the impact of UK court overruling Scots court cases.

Scottish Government sets up a group of experts to look into the impact of UK court overruling Scots court cases.

The controversy started in May 2011 after the London-based court overruled the conviction of a man found guilty of murder by the Scottish courts.

In a previous case known as the Cadder judgement, the UK Supreme Court had also ruled on criminal convictions in Scotland, forcing the Scottish Government to enact emergency legislation to prevent compensation payments worth hundreds of millions of pounds to nearly 3,500 conviction cases.

Despite the Union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1707, the Scottish legal system retained its independence as a separate legal system with its own courts governed by Scots Law. The UK is the only state within the EU that has more than one legal system.

The ruling of the UK Supreme Court on a Scottish criminal case prompted a row between the Scottish Government and a number of senior legal figures, and a split within the legal profession over the UK Supreme Court's authority to overrule the Scottish courts.

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, said "Scotland is renowned for its distinct, independent and entirely separate legal system, so my own view is that we simply cannot ignore a situation where a court in another UK jurisdiction is intervening so aggressively in our judicial system."

In June, the Scottish Government decided to set up an expert legal group to address concerns that the UK Supreme Court is undermining the independence of the Scottish legal system.

The expert review will publish a final report by the autumn with advice on possible options for reform.

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Celtic Countries is the online magazine for people who enjoy the Celtic nations, their natural splendour, culture, and lifestyles.

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