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Lady Clark appointed Chairman of Scottish Law Commission

21 June 2012


Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill today announced the appointment of a new Chairman to the Scottish Law Commission.

The new Chairman is Lady Clark of Calton QC.

Lady Clark of Calton QC brings to the appointment the necessary level of legal knowledge across a range of areas of Scots law, and an ability to provide strategic direction of the Commission. She has wide ranging skills and experience in law reform issues, drawn from her current judicial role, and from her background at the bar and as Advocate General. Lady Clark was appointed in 2005 by the then Prime Minister to the House of Lords.

This appointment will be for five years and will run from 21 June 2012 until 20 June 2017.  Lady Clark succeeds Lord Drummond Young in the post.

Mr MacAskill said:

"The work of the Scottish Law Commission is highly valued by the Scottish Government, and I am very pleased that Lady Clark has accepted the appointment of Chair.

I am sure that her wide ranging experience and skills will be an asset in taking forward the work of the Commission and its commitment to law reform in Scotland."

Lady Clark has been a Senator of the College of Justice since 2006. She has had a long and active interest in law reform over 30 years.  She graduated LLB (Hons) St Andrews in 1970, PhD Edinburgh University 1975 and was a lecturer in law at Dundee University 1973-76 during which time she carried out research into the pre-trial release system in criminal proceedings. She had a successful career at the Scots Bar where she appeared in a wide range of cases, particularly medical negligence and a number of public inquiries.

She was MP for Edinburgh Pentlands from 1997 to 2005, and became the first female law officer in the UK in 1999 when she was appointed Advocate General for Scotland. As Advocate General she was involved in legislative reform both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords to which she was appointed in 2005 shortly before she ceased active involvement in politics when she was appointed as a Senator of the College of Justice. 

This post is made on a part-time basis, with 60 per cent of Lady Clark’s time being spent on Commission business, and the remainder of her time devoted to her judicial functions.  Lady Clark retains her judicial salary and receives no additional payment for this work. 

The Scottish Law Commission, along with its counterpart for England and Wales, was set up by the Law Commissions Act 1965.  It exists to keep the law of Scotland under review with a view to its modernisation, simplification and systematic reform.  The Commission receives and considers proposals for changes to the law, examines particular branches of the law, and makes recommendations for reform.

This Ministerial public appointment was made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland’s Code of Practice.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees political activity within the last 5 years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.  Lady Clark has undertaken no political activities over the last five years.

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