Your report (19 February) regarding the Supreme Court’s damages award to Miss Lesley Jackson exposed an alarming aspect of Scotland’s legal system: the impressive inability of Scotland’s judges to get it right.
Miss Jackson was seriously injured in 2004 when she was hit by a car [aged 13]. A Scottish judge awarded her damages of £2.25 million but reduced that to £225,000 after concluding that she should shoulder 90 per cent of the blame for the accident because she carelessly ran across the road.
That conclusion was untenable give the evidence of the eyewitnesses and the fact that the driver saw a parked school bus (with flashing lights) ahead of him – ergo, he had a duty of care to reduce his speed because he could foresee the possibility of a child running across the road.
After an appeal to the higher echelons of the Court of Session, the judges concluded that she was 70 per cent to blame and awarded her £675,000.
The reasoning behind that decision was found wanting by the Supreme Court: “Overall the Extra Division’s reasoning does not provide a satisfactory explanation of their conclusion that the pursuer bore the major share of responsibility. Lord Reed considered the defender’s conduct played at least an equal role to that of the pursuer in causing the damage.”
The appeal was allowed and the pursuer was consequently awarded £1.125m [last week].
This is but one of a number of cases that required a visit to the Supreme Court for exposure to the art of corrective reasoning – and the consequent enhancement of justice.
If the Yes vote had succeeded, the SNP government would have abolished the role of the Supreme Court regarding appeals from the Scottish courts – to the detriment of those who relied on it for access to justice.