Supreme Court decision on IndyRef2 could be predicted after one hour

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Lord Hope of Craighead said the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will seek to release its decisions within “six to eight weeks” to ensure judges have the time to outline their considerations. The court will hear arguments on Tuesday after the Lord Advocate referred a prospective Bill legislating for a second Scottish independence referendum. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s the Sunday Show, Lord Hope said the court recognised the importance of the issue and would seek to provide a judgment “as soon as possible”.

The crossbench peer said: “The way the system works is, first of all, a preparation stage where written submissions go in on behalf of the various parties.

“They need to be read and understood – there are 50 pages from the Lord Advocate, 30 from the Attorney General, and the Advocate General representing the United Kingdom Government.

“There’s also papers by the SNP, focussing on the right to self-determination in international law.

“The court will assimilate all the written material and then on Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a hearing in public at which the Lord Advocate and the counsel for the Advocate General will present their arguments orally.”

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Lord Hope continued: “Immediately after the hearing, the justices will retire and discuss the case and they go immediately to express as to what they’ve made of the argument.

“At the end of that process, a decision has to be taken of who goes to write the judgment or possibly several people write it if there is dissent, and that takes a bit of time for the judgment to go through various processes until it’s ready to be published.

“I think myself I would expect something between six to eight weeks to go past – we’re not talking about many months.

“This is an important issue, the court really recognises that and I’m sure the court will try to get the judgment out as soon as possible.”

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The peer added the hearing will act as a debate or seminar for the panel to decide the outcome as there no oral witnesses from either side of the argument are expected to testify.

He added: “They will have the (Scotland) Act in front of them, they’ll be very interested to hear from the Lord Advocate on what she has to say and they’ll be exploring her reasons for bringing the case before them and the arguments which she wants to follow.

“It is a very interesting debate. In the first hour or so, I think, will make it very clear which way the court is likely to go.”


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SNP president Mike Russell on Sunday told the party conference in Aberdeen the Supreme Court will “fail the people of Scotland” if the Scottish Government is not allowed to legislate for a new independence referendum.

Mr Russell said: “If the Supreme Court rules in our favour, then it will be on October 19 next year.

“And if the Supreme Court fails the people of Scotland, then we will rise to that challenge too, and put our case at the next general election, whenever that is.

“That’s a choice that has to be made if Scotland is to escape from the downward spiral of Tory and Labour governments exploiting but ignoring Scotland.”

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