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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen


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Reports of a new Advocate General for Scotland

Client Alerts16/10/2020

It’s been widely reported that Keith Stewart QC is to step into the shoes left by Lord Keen a month ago. During tumultuous times, our Market Affairs team looks at what items are top of the new appointee’s to-do list.

Almost exactly a month after the resignation of the previous Advocate General for Scotland, Keith Stewart QC is set to take over the position, with a list of priorities which few would envy. 

A QC who was called to the Bar almost 30 years ago with a wide experience of criminal law, Mr Stewart also lectures professionally on subjects including damages for personal injuries.

Taking over from Lord Keen, whose five years within Government made him an almost miraculous mainstay in this turbulent political era, Mr Stewart will from day one be expected to front the Government’s legal position in Scotland.

Between the Internal Markets Bill (which caused his predecessor to resign) and growing rumblings of legal voices becoming key in the discussion of whether Scotland will hold a second independence referendum, Mr Stewart will find himself at the centre of some of the most controversial topics in UK politics.

Will the new appointee be able to give any attention to the ongoing issue of whiplash reform? With the reforms supposedly coming into force in 6 months’ time, and no definitive timetable yet set out for how this target will be reached, it is becoming increasingly urgent that Ministers communicate with an industry that still has significant gaps in its understanding of the path to implementation. 

However, given the state of the new Advocate General’s in-tray, it may not even be he who is charged with finalising the implementation of whiplash reform. The Government could yet choose to separate out Lord Keen’s former duties as Government Spokesperson at the Ministry of Justice from the Advocate General for Scotland role. In this scenario, another (as-yet-unknown) figure would be tasked with the civil justice portfolio.

Once again, the insurance industry finds itself in a position where it is seeking urgent clarity from the Government: not only on the timetable for whiplash reform, but also the identity of the Minister who is set to lead on ensuring that the reforms are fully implemented on time.