Lawyers celebrate 200 years of Session Cases



Lord Carloway addresses attendees at Session Cases’ bicentenary reception

Lawyers, judges and students gathered in Edinburgh yesterday evening to celebrate the bicentenary of Session Cases.

Seemingly at risk of being delayed until the tercentenary, the event was finally able to take place in Parliament Hall. It was hosted by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting (SCLR), which publishes Session Cases. Making the most of the reprieve between lockdowns, much champagne was consumed by attendees – and much gossip exchanged.

The Lord President, Lord Carloway reflected on the importance of the authoritative law reports, making mention of the role played by the Twelve Tables in ancient times in the relationship between the patricians and plebs of Rome.

Angela Grahame QC, chair of the SCLR’s board of trustees, told guests that the first case was reported in Session Cases on 12 May 1821 by Mr Patrick Shaw and that “Napoleon had just died the week before”.

Ms Grahame said: “Session Cases are the oldest report series in the UK and Commonwealth and the second longest running series of law reports in the common law world, sitting only behind the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Current editor Emma Toner, the first woman to hold the editorship, paid tribute to the lawyers who prepare the reports whilst working full time.

Between March and May this year, Scottish Legal News published nominations for the top Session Case. The winner was, of course, Donoghue v Stevenson. It was followed by Moorov v HM Advocate 1930; MacCormick v Lord Advocate 1953; and the more recent Cherry v Advocate General 2020.