As the makers of our laws, as our representatives, and in holding the Scottish Government to account, MSPs wear many hats. To support them in this, JUSTICE has published a new report, Law for Scottish lawmakers: A JUSTICE guide to the law.
The report, an update of our 2015 Westminster focussed publication Law For lawmakers, it gives a basic introduction to some of the core legal and constitutional principles with which parliamentarians grapple on a daily basis at Holyrood.
Whilst the legal profession has always been well-represented in politics, politicians are not elected for their ability as lawyers. A clear understanding of how law and the legal system works, its principles and its limitations is vital for MSPs seeking to understanding how our constitution, our Government and our society is regulated and how the rights of individuals are protected or enforced.
In these times of political and constitutional change we face significant questions about the nature of our democracy and the foundation of the United Kingdom. This guide doesn’t provide answers to those questions but does provide a basic glossary to help inform discussion and debate. At its heart is a shared understanding – stepping beyond party politics – of the role that Parliament plays in both making the law work and ensuring respect for the rule of law in practice.
The Right Hon Lord Carloway writes in his foreword:
“We are at a crucial point in the development of the Scottish legal system. Political uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, and the place of Scotland in the future world order, are only two of the important issues which the Scottish Parliament will have to grapple with in the coming months and years.
“The legal consequences of the anticipated political change may be very significant. They will require legislative alterations to the substantive law, especially in those areas which have been heavily influenced by the EU. As law-makers, Scottish Parliamentarians will be responsible for many of these alterations.”
Law for Scottish lawmakers has been kindly supported by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates. It was largely drafted by volunteer members of JUSTICE who are solicitors and advocates in Scotland: Gordon Dalyell, Neil Deacon, Kenneth Campbell QC, Tim Haddow and Fred Mackintosh. We thank them for their generous support of the project.