Thompsons Solicitors has made some hard hitting recommendations to the Thomson Review into the Rights of Audience in the Supreme Courts in Scotland.
The Review has been urged to ensure that the current practice of High Court Judges remaining member of the Faculty of Advocates after their appointment to the bench should cease.
Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, senior partner of Thompsons Solicitors argues that their Lordships should no longer have any role in the appointment of the Dean of Faculty and that they should be stripped of their exclusive role in the appointment of QCs.
Mr Maguire backs the panel’s recommendation that the Dean of Faculty’s role as conduit for the judiciary to communicate any concerns they might have on the quality of Advocates should be paralleled by a similar appointment to cover Solicitor Advocates.
In his submission he raised concerns that the impartiality of judges could be questioned if it appeared they were placing more evidence on the submissions of advocates rather than solicitor advocates.
Mr Maguire said: “While our own experience of the judiciary has been nothing other than fair and attentive with no hint of discrimination between ourselves as solicitor advocates or advocates, we have heard of instances where judges have sought to introduce into the proceedings factors relating to Rights of Audience of one against another.
“Some of that may be derived from the background of the particular judge in question and who may believe that advocacy has to be defined in terms of the particular institution from which it arises.
“We know that at least one judge in the Woodside case has been supportive of solicitor advocacy but nevertheless some of the comments in the Woodside case could be interpreted as suggesting that the Court would automatically place greater reliance on the submission of an advocate (especially when procedures had been in place whereby any such concern could have been more properly communicated). The Lord President should ensure that such practice or practices cease.”