The third Edinburgh Centre for Commercial Law Annual Lecture was given by the Rt Hon Lord Hope of Craighead on 12 March 2010. His title was: "Taking the case to London: maybe it's not all over after all."
The event was attended by a mix of solicitors, advocates and judges in addition to academics and students. This is consistent with the Centre's aim to provide a forum uniting all parts of the legal community in debate.
The Rt Hon Lord Reed, the honorary chair of the Centre, provided an amusing and insightful introduction, referring to Lord Hope's long and illustrious career.
The first third of Lord Hope's lecture provided the audience with an interesting picture of the practical changes which have taken place with the move from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is much more "visitor-centred", improving the public's ability to participate in the work of the court.
Lord Hope then moved on to consider the Walker Report: "Final appellate jurisdiction in the Scottish Legal System." He provided comments on each of the six models for Scotland. His preference for the status quo appears to be motivated at least in part by his concern that Scotland should continue to have a voice in the work of the Supreme Court, i.e. continue to be represented by two Scottish lawlords. He did not favour a move towards the litigation of purely Scottish matters in the Scottish courts only, with matters common to the UK jurisdictions going to the Supreme Court. If this were to occur, there would be no possibility of Scots law exerting any influence on English law in these areas.
Finally, he addressed the thorny issue of leave to appeal, agreeing with a contribution from the floor that there was a need to provide more detailed answers to requests for leave to appeal.
The debate continued in the wine reception following the lecture with Lord Hope being quizzed in particular by those visiting the Law School as part of the European Young Lawyers' Scheme.