Official Launch of the Judicial Institute for Scotland

Today sees the official launch of the Judicial Institute for Scotland and the opening of the purpose-built learning suite located within Parliament House.

This new learning suite has been equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will enable the Judicial Institute to deliver a wide range of training courses and to respond quickly to training needs when they arise.
In his speech at the start of the legal year last September, The Lord President, The Right Honourable Lord Gill, emphasised the importance he placed on providing judges in Scotland with high quality training in order to ensure that they are in a position to deal with the raft of new legislation and case law, and that they are fully conversant with courtroom technology and case-management expectations.

“Judicial training is not simply an optional extra for the judiciary,” he said. “We have an obligation individually and collectively to ensure that we maintain a professional approach throughout our judicial life.  This new learning suite will enable us to ensure that judges in Scotland benefit from the latest technology in helping them to meet the challenges that lay ahead”.

Prior to 1997 there was effectively no formal training for judges.  The Sheriffs’ Association took on some training in the 1980s and ’90s but that tended to be organising visits to prison or arranging talks.  Training then began to be delivered in hotels on two or three day residential courses, but such facilities limited the type of training that could be delivered.  Over time it became clear that judges needed a more bespoke relevant, modern and accessible training programme which eventually led to the development of this new training facility.

The Director of the Judicial Institute, Sheriff Welsh QC recently said of the learning suite: “Everything is imbued with the principles of adult education. The plectrum-shaped tables are designed to facilitate interaction among groups of judges. The L-shaped room can be converted into big or small spaces; IT can be configured in different ways. The benches at the end of either leg of the room are fitted with the technology you will find in courts across Scotland to enable judges to practice using modern court equipment designed to help vulnerable witnesses give evidence remotely.”
Being in Parliament House also brings the added advantage of enabling senior judges to engage and take part in training and to meet more readily with JPs and sheriffs on training courses.  Training can also be designed around the particular needs of individual judges and sheriffs, taking into account their previous experience and skill set.

The Deputy Director Sheriff Duff said: “We do have continuing professional development. It isn’t compulsory but I have not encountered any reluctance among judges to opt in for training. Induction training is however compulsory for every new judge.”
Attending the opening today will be Mr Kenny McAskill Cabinet Secretary for Justice and number of invited guests.  The Lord President will invite The Right Honourable Lord Ross to formally open the Judicial Institute for Scotland.

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