Ceremony of installation of the Lord Presdident and Lord Justice General

Speech by the Rt Hon Lord Gill on 26 June 2012

"The solemnity of this ceremony and the oaths that I have taken are a reminder to all of us of the honour and the responsibility that go with the historic offices of Lord President and Lord Justice General.

I am conscious of the example of those distinguished predecessors in this office whose judgments have illuminated and developed our law as a living system rooted in principle and adaptive to our ever-changing society.

It will be my task to be worthy of their example and to serve Scotland well through the work of these courts.

The Scottish legal system is about to embark on the most significant changes that have taken place in over a century.  The Parliament will now consider legislation for the creation of a Scottish Civil Justice Council.  In due course legislation will be brought forward to implement the main proposals of the Scottish Civil Courts Review. 

There will also be major changes in our criminal procedure reflecting some of the recommendations of Lord Carloway and Sheriff Bowen. 

The next few years will be a period of transition.  I am confident that the profession will adapt flexibly to whatever changes emerge.  I am convinced that these changes will be most effective and beneficial if all of us, for our respective parts, approach them with an open mind and in a positive spirit.

I hope that in this way Scotland’s legal framework will best serve our society’s needs.

This building has been my workplace for most of my life.  I would like therefore to conclude these brief remarks with a few words to those who work here.

First, a word to the administrative and support staff of the courts.   The complex process by which justice is brought to the citizen depends crucially on your efforts, which are too seldom publicly acknowledged.  I assure you that your work is valued and appreciated.  Recently you have maintained the highest standards of service despite the upheaval of the building works all around you and despite the volume of work that has been imposed on you.  I am glad that I am a personal friend of so many of you.  I assure you of my support in all that you do. 

Next, a word to the members of the Bar and the solicitor advocates who practise in these courts.  Having been a practitioner myself, I know the stresses that you experience in your professional lives – preparing cases at short notice, meeting deadlines, arguing difficult points, and so on.  I know the burdens that you bear; and I shall try not to add to them.  

I enter upon the office of Lord President encouraged by the indescribable bond of mutual confidence that exists between the Bench and those who appear before it.  It is a bond that I shall respect and foster.

Lastly, I address my esteemed friends and colleagues on the Bench.  I am grateful to you for the supportive words that you have expressed to me on my appointment.  It is a privilege to preside over a court of such wisdom and learning.

This jurisdiction, through its judgments and through the work of the Scottish Law Commission, has had a powerful influence on legal development in the English-speaking jurisdictions and beyond.  With the help and support of you, my trusted colleagues, I hope to maintain Scotland’s reputation throughout the legal world. 

It will be a privilege to be your President and your defender". 


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