Judicial Recusals

Declinature of jurisdiction, also referred to as recusal, refers to the act of a judicial office holder abstaining from participation in legal proceedings due to a conflict of interest or when his or her impartiality might reasonably be impugned. The table below records those cases in which a senator, temporary judge, sheriff principal, sheriff or summary sheriff grants or refuses a formal motion for recusal in open court.

30/1/17 Edinburgh Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Crowe Robert Wylie (EDI 2016 012008) **Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously presided over criminal matter involving accused, which might reasonably be thought to influence any decision in the present case
13/2/17 Portree Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Taylor QC A v B* Ex proprio motu; Sheriff previously dealt with a criminal case involving parties
23/2/17 Inverness Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Fleetwood Ashwin Bantwal v Vrishali Shenoy Ex proprio motu; Sheriff presided over a jury trial involving parties
29/3/17 Perth Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Wade QC Drysdale Motorcycles v Derek Annand & Edwin McLaren (SE9/15)  Ex proprio motu; Sheriff, in her previous role as advocate depute, was heavily involved in preparing the prosecution of one of the parties in the action
6/4/17 Kilmarnock Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Foran Lynsey Henderson v NHS Ayrshire & Arran Health Board (KIL-PD55-14) Pursuer; A witness was a former client of the Sheriff in previous role in private practice
4/5/17 Elgin Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Pasportnikov PF Elgin v Douglas Welsh (ELG2017-000441) Ex proprio motu; Sheriff had previous knowledge of the parties through a Children's Hearing matter
16/5/17 Banff Sheriff Court (criminal) Sheriff Mann PF Banff v Kate Law (x2)           (BAN-2016-172) (BA16000365)
Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to relatives of the accused
12/6/17 Glasgow Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Platt Lucy Bruce v Andrew Bruce (GLW-F619-14)  Ex proprio motu; Sheriff personally known to a witness
4/8/17 Forfar Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Murray Dundee Joinery Limited v Mike Hall (FFR-SG157-17) Defender; Sheriff had acted on behalf of the Pursuer in a civil action against the prospective Lay Representative as a Defender prior to him being appointed as a Sheriff
14/8/17 Elgin Sheriff Court (civil) Sheriff Pasportnikov Ann Hawksley v Gordonstoun Schools Limited (ELG-A80-16)  Ex proprio motu;Sheriffhasprevious knowledge of the parties 

*Parties anonymised due to sensitive nature of case

**Of the judge’s own accord


At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Doherty sentenced Steven Dick to 10 years imprisonment and placed him on the Sex Offenders Register for life, after he was found guilty of a number of sexual offences between January 2009 and February 2011 in Burntisland, Fife.

On sentencing Lord Doherty made the following statement in court:

“You have pled guilty to four serious charges and have been convicted by the jury of a further two. These offences demonstrated deviousness, dishonesty and depravity on your part. The motivation for charges 1, 3, 4 and 5 was your own sexual gratification. You went to elaborate efforts to achieve your aim. The sentences I would have imposed for those offences, viewing each of them at this stage in isolation and leaving out of account your offer to plead guilty to them at the Preliminary Hearing, would have been 2 years 6 months imprisonment for charge 1, 3 years imprisonment for charge 3, 18 months imprisonment for charge 4, and 2 years 6 months imprisonment for charge 5. In light of your offer to plead I would have reduced those sentences to 1 year 10 months on charge 1, 2 years 3 months on charge 3, 14 months on charge 4, and 1 year 10 months on charge 5.

The most serious charge of which you were convicted is charge 6. You abducted and detained the complainer, threatened her, restrained her, assaulted her to her injury, attempted to penetrate her anus, and orally raped her. You subjected her to a painful and terrifying experience to impose your will upon her, and to satisfy your own desires. Once again, if I had been viewing the matter in isolation the sentence I would have imposed would have been one of 6 years imprisonment.

Finally, you were convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by attempting to obstruct inquiries into the rape allegation and by attempting to destroy evidence. The sentence I would have imposed for that crime, looked at in isolation, would have been imprisonment for one year.

It is not appropriate to make those sentences concurrent – they relate to separate offences, committed at different times, and (in relation to charges 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6) against different complainers. Concurrent sentences would result effectively in you being sentenced to only 6 years imprisonment. That would be unduly lenient for the crimes which you have committed. On the other hand, were I to make each sentence consecutive the aggregate sentence - 14 years and one month - would in my view be excessive. To avoid both these pitfalls I shall impose a cumulo sentence in respect of charges 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of 10 years imprisonment. That sentence will be back-dated to 9 September 2011.

Charge 6 was a charge of rape and charges 1, 3, 4 and 5 all involved a significant sexual element. These are all offences which the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 apply to. You have already been notified that you are subject to the notification requirements contained in that Act. You will remain of the Sex Offenders Register for the remainder of your life”.