Scottish judges, lawyers & advocates all fight to keep corroboration rule

The Scots have been making a lot of headlines in the UK this week after signing an agreement with the British Prime Minister that they can hold a referendum seeking full independence from the UK. However, they have always had their own legal system, entirely separate from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This legal system has just been the subject of a major review, which has recently reported.

The Carloway Review has recommended the abolition of the Scots corroboration rule, that requires that each piece of evidence adduced during a trial is supported by two sources. This requirement has always been the subject of envy by those south of the border who work in the field of miscarriages of justice, albeit that there are still people wrongly convicted in Scotland. However, Lord Carloway’s recommendation that the rule be abolished, as it has ‘no place in a modern legal system’, is meeting with fierce resistance. Each of the professional bodies for judges, advocates, and lawyers, have come out against the move, arguing that it would seriously increase the risk of miscarriages of justice and decrease confidence in the legal system. Read more here…

The corroboration rule is one that acts as a significant safeguard against miscarriages of justice and it is a shame that the rule does not apply in English and Welsh courts. With each piece of evidence requiring corroboration, many false allegations of sexual assault etc. cannot be prosecuted as they cannot be supported independently. However, this is one reason the corroboration rule is at risk of being eradicated, because it makes it harder to achieve convictions, particular in cases of domestic violence or sexual offences where it can be merely one person’s word against another. We shall watch the Scottish debate with interest.

One response to “Scottish judges, lawyers & advocates all fight to keep corroboration rule

  1. It should be abolished. There are other legal safeguards in place to minimise the risk of wrongful convictions.

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