Scottish Feminist Judgments Project: An Insight

On Thursday 8th November, the Faculty of Advocates hosted a Scottish Public Law Group event that centred on the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project. The event, which was chaired by Lady Carmichael, Senator of the College of Justice, involved a short presentation on the project by Chloë Kennedy (University of Edinburgh), one of the project co-ordinators and judgment writers, which was followed by discussion of two of the public law judgments that are being rewritten for the project.

Aileen McHarg (University of Strathclyde) discussed the UK Supreme Court decision Salvesen v Riddle, which was the first civil case in which a provision in an Act of the Scottish Parliament was held to be outwith legislative competence and therefore ‘not law’ in terms of section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998. In their feminist rewriting of the case, Aileen and Donald Nicolson (University of Essex) consider whether approaching the legal issues through the lens of an ethic of care, rather than an ethic of justice, might have led to a different outcome.

Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra and Emily Postan (both University of Edinburgh) discussed the UK Supreme Court case Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan & Anor, in which two Glasgow midwives argued that they ought to be exempt from acting in supervisory roles in relation to abortion. In contrast to the original judgment in this case, which addressed the issue as purely a matter of statutory construction of the Abortion Act 1967, Agomoni and Emily’s feminist judgment explores questions of professionalism, vulnerability, interests and structural barriers – and notions of a public/private distinction – from a perspective which keeps gender to the fore.

The members of the project who attended this event were very grateful for the opportunity and enjoyed the many discussions that it prompted.