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Scotland Act 1998


The procedures for dealing with devolution issues in Schedule 6 have implications for civil and criminal proceedings in Scotland.  Where a devolution issue arises in the course of proceedings, under the provisions of paragraphs 5 and 6 of Part I of Schedule 6 to the Act the Advocate General is required to be given an opportunity of taking part in the proceedings but only so far as they relate to the devolution issue.

The Advocate General has no existing rights of appeal.  In the context of criminal proceedings, the provision made by this amendment is necessary to give the Advocate General for Scotland the right to appeal against the determination of a trial judge upon a devolution issue.  So far as the accused is concerned, where he is convicted, he can simply appeal against conviction or sentence in terms of sections 106 or 175 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.  So far as the Lord Advocate is concerned, if the devolution issue has arisen in solemn proceedings, as the devolution issue will be a point of law, the Lord Advocate will be able to refer the issue to the High Court for their opinion under section 123 of the 1995 Act whether the accused has been acquitted or convicted.  If the devolution issue has arisen in summary proceedings, under section 175(3) of the 1995 Act the Lord Advocate will be able to appeal to the High Court on a point of law against an acquittal or against a sentence passed on conviction.  In addition, he will be able to appeal by way of suspension under section 191 of the 1995 Act.

The provision made by new section 288A ensures that where the Advocate General wishes to appeal against the decision of the trial court on a devolution issue then, whether the accused is tried on indictment or summarily and whether he is acquitted or convicted, the Advocate General may make a reference to the High Court for their opinion on the devolution issue in a similar way to that in which the Lord Advocate can make a reference under section 123 of the 1995 Act.  The new section is in similar terms to section 123 of the 1995 Act.

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