§ Mr. Murphy
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will set out the principal achievements of Her Majesty's Government within his Department's responsibilities since May 1979.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
As the Government's chief legal advisers as regards Scotland, the Lord Advocate and I have participated in many of the achievements mentioned by my colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The Lord Advocate and I are responsible for the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service, and for the Scottish parliamentary draftsmen. In some cases we provide legal representation in the courts for other Government Departments, including, on the invitation of the Attorney-General, representation in the European Court and in the European Court of Human Rights. In all these respects, we have sought to carry out these responsibilities fully and effectively, but our achievements are necessarily qualitative rather than quantitative and are not readily susceptible to listing.
There are, however, certain other achievements since May 1979 which I might list. These include:
- (a) a comprehensive reform of the rules of jurisdiction in the courts of Scotland effected by the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982;
- (b) the introduction in January 1983 of a simplified procedure in certain categories of divorce action in the Court of Session;
- (c) the promotion of the Divorce Jurisdiction, Court Fees and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1983, which gives the sheriff concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Session in actions for divorce: the powers in the Act will remove in certain undefended divorce actions the requirements for corroborated evidence and thus will enable further simplification of those actions in the Court of Session and, in due course, in the sheriff court; and
- (d) the promotion of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1980 which made various improvements and amendments in the jurisdiction and procedure of the courts including provisions for remits from the sheriff to the Court of Session and enabling Court of Session judges to act as arbiters in commercial disputes.