Our foreword: the Hon Lady Carmichael

In these days where one often hears of a pressure to “publish or perish” in the academic world, and of problems associated with that, it is easy to forget that the act of writing an analysis of an area of law with a view to sharing that with the wider legal community is an act of courage and generosity. While what the advocate says in court certainly is scrutinised closely, by opponents, judges and juries, it is – unless it becomes relevant to a later appeal — usually not recorded in full and made available more generally. When, however, a writer publishes an article in a journal, or a scholarly monograph, they are confiding their analysis, with all its strengths or weaknesses, to a critical and informed readership. The writer is also providing a resource for others – for students, academics, judges and legal practitioners. As an advocate, when trying to develop a legal argument, I looked to see what academic writers had said on the topic. Their thinking sometimes informed the arguments I made in court. Their research was on occasion the source for me of references to decisions from courts outside the United Kingdom.

My first thoughts, therefore, on seeing the range of articles to be published in this edition, are of admiration for the industry and energy of the writers, and gratitude for their willingness to share their thinking. I was impressed also by the range of subject matter, which includes: Scottish conveyancing; a variety of medico-legal issues; child marriage in India; the fundamental rights of indigenous communities; social welfare; jurisprudence; delict; various aspects of EU law and of international commercial law. Some of the issues highlighted were being discussed by students when I was at university. Others certainly were not; cyberspace for me at the time existed only in the science fiction of William Gibson.

I am thankful for the time I spent at Glasgow University. I still have many friends from that period. The legal education I received was the foundation for a career that enabled me, as an advocate, to plead in courts and tribunals in Scotland, in the House of Lords, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Justice of the European Union. In addition to learning about all the necessary aspects of domestic law, I benefited greatly from the exposure to other legal systems provided by honours Comparative Law under the leadership of Professor Esin Örücü. My first ever trip abroad was to Rotterdam for the Legal Practice in European Integration course. What I learned from the Honours courses still influences the way I approach material from other jurisdictions.

The rich mixture of material tackled by the authors in this edition of the Law Review demonstrates the breadth of their interests. The range is entirely appropriate for work done in a small jurisdiction. There is a need to value and celebrate the best and most interesting aspects of what is unique in Scots law, but also to study and learn from the wider legal world.

-Lady A Carmichael.


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The Hon Lady Ailsa Carmichael is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and Judge of the Supreme Courts (as of 2016). After graduating with an Upper Second-Class degree, specialising in Comparative Law, Lady Carmichael undertook the Diploma in Legal Practice and thereafter trained with Simpson and Marwick in Edinburgh. Between 2000 and 2008, she acted as standing junior counsel to the Home Office in Scotland, appearing in various judicial reviews and appeals regarding immigration and asylum; before taking silk in 2008. Lady Carmichael has also served as an advocate depute (ad hoc), a member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, a part-time Sheriff and a Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) within her career.

The Law Review Committee members are thrilled to have such an esteemed alumna write our foreword this year, and thank Lady Carmichael greatly for her contribution to the journal.

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