Judge impartial on high hedges

I REFER to your report (News, 3 January) relating to proposals to deal with the problem of "high hedges" or "nuisance vegetation". I wish to make it clear that I am in no sense "leading a campaign" in relation to any proposals for new legislation. I have never made any proposal on the lines of the one discussed in the report – which was, of course, the setting up of a body to police hedge disputes. I do take the view there is a problem worth addressing but my rol

The distinction is important. I think a judge should, where appropriate, respond to requests for comment on matters relating to the administration of law. The aim is to help lawmakers have a proper understanding of the relevant legal processes and the practical implications of their proposals. But I have always tried to avoid expressing a view on issues requiring a policy decision or value judgment. I see that as the role of lawmakers, not judges.

Creation of new rights in favour of people adversely affected by hedges or trees necessarily involves some restriction of the existing rights of hedge and tree owners. Where the balance should lie between the interests of the owners and interests of the affected neighbours is an issue of policy, which I do not seek to influence.

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The Hon Lord McGhie, chairman of the Scottish Land Court, president of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.