Lord Gill presented a list (to Holyrood’s Petitions Committee) of judges and sheriffs who recused themselves from judicial proceedings because of a conflict of interest (your report, 9 December).
Lord Gill believes this, and the judicial oath, is enough regarding sufficient safeguards against a conflict of interest – ergo the imposition of a mandatory register of interests is not necessary.
He may think so; many do not. A mandatory register would allow the laity access to the full range of a judge’s interests and those involved in court proceedings could thereby ascertain whether or not the judge in particular proceedings should withdraw, if there is a conflict of interest.
The “system” supported by Lord Gill does not facilitate such access. We have no idea how many times judges failed to recuse themselves when a conflict of interest existed – thereby tainting the entire judicial proceedings.
An open register of their interests is essential if justice is seen to be done. The fact that Lord Gill (Scotland’s “top” judge) and most of the judiciary are opposed to an open register suggests that legislation will be required, to guide the judiciary to the outskirts of modernity.