The role of a judge is to interpret and apply the law without bias or prejudice. Judges have a duty to sit on the cases allocated to them based primarily on their availability, and must deal with them efficiently avoiding unnecessary delay.

Declinature of jurisdiction, or recusal, refers to the act of a judicial office holder abstaining from taking part in legal proceedings due to a conflict of interest; or in cases where their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Judges can decline to sit; or parties to a case can object to the judge’s involvement by making a motion for declinature. This might involve financial interest or a close family relationship. 

More minor conflicts may be declared before the court. The parties to the case can then either object to the judge’s involvement or proceed based on agreement that the interest is suitably insignificant.

Cases where senators, temporary judges, sheriffs principal, sheriffs, summary sheriffs, justices of the peace, or a member of a Scottish tribunal, grant or refuse a formal motion for recusal, or recuse themselves of their own accord, in open court, are recorded for the current year in the table below.

Previous years have been archived.




Date JOH & Court/Chamber Case Name/Reference Motion By Refused /Granted Reason
15/05/2022 SHERIFF D J HAMILTON - STIRLING SHERIFF COURT STI/2021-000643 SHERIFF D J HAMILTON Granted The sheriff is acquainted with one of the police witnesses in this case and the accused's father is also a serving police officer. The sheriff feels this could lead to conflict and so has recused himself from the case. 
11/04/2022 Alistair Brown - MHTS Tribunal MHTS/3/22/01/09408/S1012b Alistair Brown Granted The member has previous professional involvement with someone from this case from around 2011/12
08/02/2022 Sheriff Iain Cruickshank - Inverness Sheriff Court Finalyson & Finlayson v Munro INV-A6-22 Ex Proprio Motu Granted <div>This case called before Sheriff Cruickshanks at a hearing after service to consider the continuation of interim orders.</div><div>There is an ongoing appeal before the SAC at the instance of the defender in this case as the appellant.&nbsp;Sheriff Cruickshanks forwarded a supplementary note to the SAC which may impact on the credibility of an affidavit before the SAC by the appellant.</div><div>Given the above&nbsp;Sheriff Cruickshanks considered it was inappropriate for him to consider interim orders or be further involved in this case given that this case, and the case on appeal have close connections.</div>
22/01/2022 Summary Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss - Edinburgh Sheriff Court EDI-SG455-21 Claimant John McKechnie Refused The claimant made a motion asking the Sheriff to recuse himself on the basis he was acquainted with the Respondent's previous lay representative Mr Gough, who was in attendance in a supporting role. The Sheriff refused the motion on the basis that Mr Gough was not representing the Respondent and there was no conflict of interest.
07/01/2022 Lord Woolman - Inner House, Court of Session P1259/18: William Frederick Ian Beggs v– The Scottish Legal Aid Board and The Scottish Information Commissioner Agents for the Petitioner Granted Lord Woolman dealt with, as an Outer House Judge, a previous iteration of this case where the petitioner challenged SLAB's refusal of legal aid ([2018] CSOH 13).&nbsp; The Petition was refused by Lord Woolman in that case.&nbsp; Lord Woolman is of the view that a bystander might reasonably consider his Lordship has already made up his mind, or at least may be prejudiced in one direction, having already decided a different version of the same issue after a substantive hearing.
21/12/2021 Duncan Cartwright - MHTS MHTS/3/21/12/08063/S050 Granted Granted Conflict - Sensitive&nbsp;
14/12/2021 Sheriff Harris - Alloa Sheriff Court AL20001083 Ex Proprio Motu Granted <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="892"><tbody><tr height="21"><td height="21" width="892">Sheriff previously heard a civil proof involving the same allegations, accused and complainer. Sheriff deemed it inappropriate as they had been privy to information through the civil case that may not be presented to the court during the criminal trial.&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p>
26/11/2021 Sheriff Robert McDonald - Kirkwall Sheriff Court PF v John Hamilton Ex Proprio Moto Granted <div>The Sheriff heard evidence in a trial on 24/11/2021 where the accused in this case John Hamilton was appearing witness.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Having heard the nature of evidence from the witness, John Hamilton on 24/11/2021, the Sheriff found it necessary to recuse himself in respect of the trial on 25/11/2021 where John Hamilton is the accused.</div>
18/11/2021 Duncan Cartwright - MHTS MHTS/2/21/10/06006/S1012b Member Granted Conflict&nbsp;
17/11/2021 Tom Russ - MHTS MHTS/3/21/11/07008/S063 Ex Proprio Motu Granted <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="852"><tbody><tr height="20"><td height="20" width="852">Potential Conflict of Interest, since the Tribunal Member provides emergency cover to the hospital on the out of hours on call rota&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p>
27/10/2021 Sheriff Andrew Berry - Wick WCK-A16-20 Ex Proprio Motu Granted Practising solicitor having appeared before the Sheriff - likely to be questioned as a witness during the duration of the proof.&nbsp;
05/10/2021 SHERIFF ANDREW BERRY - Wick WCK-A11-18 Of member's own accord Granted <p>The sheriff has recused himself from dealing with the proof given that there may be questions during said proof regarding credibility of solicitors/former solicitors who are in court every other day.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
19/09/2021 Sheriff Martin-Brown - Forfar Sheriff Court FFR-B105-21 Allan Simpson v John Clenaghan Lay Representative Refused The Sheriff was asked to recuse herself because of previous decisions made in respect of: (i) a criminal matter; and (ii) a civil matter.
19/09/2021 Sheriff Martin-Brown - Forfar FFR-B104-21 Katie McKenzie v John Clenaghan Katie McKenzie Refused The Sheriff was asked to recuse herself because of previous decisions made in respect of: (i) a criminal matter; and (ii) a civil matter.
18/08/2021 Sheriff Fleetwood - Elgin Sheriff Court W. Beaton v W. Hendry ELG-A29-19 Ex Proprio Motu Granted The Sheriff has had previous dealings with witnesses of both parties.
15/07/2021 Marella O'Neill, Justice of the Peace - Kilmarnock Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court Ewan Paterson SCS/2020- 061786 Ex Proprio Motu Granted <p>Reporting Officer and main witness were friends to the Justice of the Peace. Case adjourned to another date before any evidence heard, or witnesses sworn in.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
20/06/2021 Lady Stacey - High Court in Glasgow HMA v Scott Reid - IND 2021-1284 Of member's own accord Granted Lady Stacey wished to recusal herself in these proceedings due to the accused and his family being known to her and living within close proximity of her home address.
12/04/2021 Joel Conn - Housing and Property Chamber - Case Management Discussion FTS/HPC/EV/21/0355 - FTS/HPC/CV/21/0356 Of Member's own accord Granted &nbsp;The Member's private practice represents a company which shares a director and shareholder of Ecosse Estates Ltd. The director was present as an observer at this Case Management Discussion.<br />
06/04/2021 Elaine Munro - Housing and Property Chamber EV/21/0273 - CV/21/0278 Of Member's own accord Granted &nbsp;Member has a conflict of interest as she has a relationship with a party<br />
06/04/2021 Andrew Cowan - Housing and Property Chamber CV/21/0492 Of member's own accord Granted Member is unable to take this case as his firm has previously acted for the Applicant's representative.<br />