Better judgement

John Forsyth’s article (21 January) regarding the significance of the new Judicial Institute of Scotland (to facilitate the training of the judiciary) contained an alarming depiction of what preceded the institute in the context of judicial training: “Scotland has not always jostled for a place in the vanguard of formalised judicial training. Advocates or solicitors could find themselves on their first day in office presiding over a trial in the High Court or the sheriff court without previously having set foot in a criminal court. They were expected to learn on the job.”

Perhaps this Fawlty Towers approach to the administration of justice explains the judicial ineptitude that prevailed in the Peter Cadder case: a whole team of Scotland’s judges sidelined the significance of European law to dismiss Cadder’s contention that his human rights had been breached by the failure of the state to provide timeous access to a lawyer subsequent to his arrest.

The “reputation” of Scotland’s judiciary was subsequently shredded by the Supreme Court when it unanimously upheld Cadder’s appeal, thereby demolishing the “reasoning” deployed to reject the appeal in the Scottish courts.

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If it achieves nothing else but the dilution (a tall order) of the egotistical insularity that appeared to influence the Cadder judgment, the Judicial Institute of Scotland will have opened the door to Scotland’s eventual entry into the refreshing world of a modern legal system.

Thomas Crooks

Dundas Street