Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 18:01 UK

MSPs pass law to reform judiciary

New laws aimed at strengthening the independence of judges have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs unanimously backed the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Bill at its final stage of scrutiny.

It recognises the country's leading judge, the Lord President, Lord Hamilton, as head of the judiciary.

He will also be handed new responsibilities, including taking charge of training, welfare and the conduct of the judiciary.

The legislation also guarantees continued judicial independence in statute and has updated procedures for sacking judges and sheriffs deemed to be unfit to serve on the bench.

Lord Hamilton said the bill would bring significant change in the administration of the Scottish courts.

"There will be a great deal of challenging work to be done in preparing for those changes," he added.


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