Temporary Judges

The use of temporary judges in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary was introduced by section 35 (3) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. At the time of this innovation guidance was prepared and issued by the then Lord President (Hope) as to the duties that they could perform. This guidance has been referred to in several cases including Clancy –v- Caird 2000 SC 441.

Revised guidance was issued in February 2013 by the Lord President the Rt. Hon. Lord Gill.

This guidance applies to persons appointed as temporary judges under section 35 (3) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. It does not apply to the re-employment of retired judges under section 22 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1985. There is no restriction as to the duties that they can perform

Temporary judges will be used only where there are, for reasons of a temporary nature, an insufficient number of permanent judges to meet the demands of business and the Lord President has approved their use.

Where a temporary judge is to be used the preference will be to allocate business to a temporary judge who is an existing judicial office holder or, as the case may be, a former judicial office holder (that is to say one not appointed under section 22 of the Act of 1985) rather than a temporary judge who is a practising member of the legal profession.

In the High Court of Justiciary, temporary judges may be allocated any kind of criminal business at first instance. Temporary judges may be used in the Appeal Court but only with the prior authority of the Lord Justice General.

In the Court of Session, temporary judges may be allocated any kind of civil business at first instance with the exception of civil jury trials and cases of particular public interest. They may not sit in the Inner House.

Click here to read the guidance issued by the Lord President The Right Hon. Lord Gill in February 2013.

Click here to view a full list of temporary judges.


Today at the High Court in Aberdeen Lord Uist imposed a two year probation order on James Murphy after he pled guilty to assault and breach of the peace on the 5 June 2010 in Paisley.

“You pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing on 29 September this year to having committed three separate offences, all directed against your wife. On 5 June this year you had in your possession a gas powered pistol with intent to cause her to believe that unlawful violence would be used against her and assaulted her by putting your hand on her chest, holding her against her close wall, holding the pistol to her head and threatening her with violence. Three days later, in the same close, you committed a breach of the peace by shouting and swearing, repeatedly banging on your wife’s door and threatening her with violence.

Although you have two minor previous convictions, one of which involved domestic disorder, you are a man of generally good character with a decent work record. These offences were committed when you were suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of your business having failed and at a time when you were not taking your prescribed anti-depressant medication. Since taking your medication while on remand in custody your condition has improved and you are now much less stressed and anxious. You have reconciled with your wife, who is prepared to take you back in the family home. You have, with the exception of a period of four days, been in custody since 6 June this year. That period in custody equates to your having already served a sentence of ten months imprisonment.

Had you pleaded not guilty and been convicted after trial I would have imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment. In view of the period you have already spent in custody, the improvement in your anxiety disorder since you began taking your prescribed medication and, most important of all, the fact that your wife is now prepared to have you back, I am, provided you tell me that you are willing to agree to certain conditions, prepared to place you on probation.

You will be placed on probation under the supervision of a supervising officer for a period of two years, and will undertake during that period (1) not to commit any offence; (2) to conform to the directions of the supervising officer as to your conduct; and (3) to attend for psychiatric treatment and counselling as directed and to take all medication prescribed for you.

I have to make plain that if, during the period of probation, you commit another offence or otherwise fail to comply with the conditions of your probation order, you may be brought back to this court and sentenced to imprisonment for these offences.

Do you understand what I have said? (Affirmative answer)

Are you prepared to undertake and comply with these conditions? (Affirmative answer)

Very well, I shall make a probation order for two years in the terms I have indicated”.

Sentencing Statements

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Friday, 15 September, 2017

HMA v George Thomas Currie

Thursday, 7 September, 2017

HMA v Alan Buick

Monday, 4 September, 2017

HMA v Mark Renton

Wednesday, 30 August, 2017

HMA v Stephen Kane

Tuesday, 29 August, 2017