Starrs and Chalmers and Bill of Advocattion for Procurator Fiscal, Linlithgow v Procurator Fiscal, Linlithgow and Hugh Latta Starrs and James Wilson Chalmers; Starrs v Ruxton, Ruxton v Starrs: ScHC 11 Nov 1999

The system in Scotland whereby lesser judges were appointed by the executive, for a year at a time, and could be discharged without explanation or challenge, meant that they could be seen not to be independent, and the system was a breach of the right to a fair trial by an independent judiciary. There was no open protocol for making such decisions. Unconscious fears of influence in a judge’s mind could be enough.
Lord Prosser referred to the temporary nature of the appointment of Sherriffs: ‘But I am inclined to see independence – the need for a judge not to be dependent on others – as an additional substantive requirement, rather than simply a means of achieving impartiality or a perception of impartiality. Independence will guarantee not only that the judge is disinterested in relation to the parties and the cause, but also that in fulfilling his judicial function, generally as well as individual cases, he is and can be seen to be free of links with others (whether in the executive, or indeed the judiciary, or in outside life) which might, or might be thought to, affect his assessment of the matters entrusted to him.’


Lord Justice Clerk and Lord Prosser


Times 17-Nov-1999, 2000 JC 208, [1999] ScotHC 242, [2000] HRLR 191


Bailii, ScotC


European Convention on Human Rights Art 6

Cited by:

CitedMillar v Dickson PC 24-Jul-2001
The Board was asked whether the appellants had waived their right to an independent and impartial tribunal under article 6 of the Convention by appearing before the temporary sheriffs without objecting to their hearing their cases on the ground that . .
CitedSingh v The Secretary of State for the Home Department for Judicial Review OHCS 24-Dec-2003
The applicant complained that the adjudicator who had heard his asylum appeal in 1997 had not been sufficiently independent.
Held: The tribunal lacked what had come to be called ‘structural independence’ The common law test for impartiality . .
CitedHolder v The Law Society Admn 26-Jul-2005
The applicant challenged the independence of the respondent’s disciplinary tribunal.
Held: The claim failed: ‘the nature of the Tribunal is entirely adequately independent and impartial for the purposes for which it is constituted. The . .
CitedBarclay and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice and others CA 2-Dec-2008
The claimant appealed against refusal of his challenge to the new constitutional law for Sark, and sought a declaration of incompatibility under the 1998 Act. He said that by restricting the people who could stand for election, a free democracy had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Administrative, Natural Justice, Scotland

Updated: 04 June 2022; Ref: scu.164537