Scotland's Constitutional Future: The Legal Issues

46 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2013 Last revised: 3 Jun 2013

See all articles by Tom Mullen

Tom Mullen

University of Glasgow - School of Law

Stephen Tierney

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Date Written: June 5, 2012


This is a report of presentations made during two day long seminars addressing the legal issues surrounding current debates over Scotland’s constitutional future. The first was held at Glasgow School of Law on 27 January 2012 and focused upon ‘The Process of Constitutional Change’, the second, at the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law on 16 March 2012, addressed ‘Inter-Governmental Relations and External Affairs’. The report also covers comments, questions and debate generated by participants. The seminars brought together academics, policy-makers, including civil servants and government lawyers from the UK, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh governments, and the UK, Scottish and European parliaments, representatives of the legal profession in Scotland, representatives from the Electoral Commission in Scotland, and from the European Commission Office in Scotland. The seminars were conducted under the Chatham House rule and on this basis comments are not attributed directly to any speaker. The key aim was to bring legal and policy expertise to bear on a range of technical but important questions relating to current constitutional discussions. A primary objective was to advance public debate by offering a comprehensive overview of the legal and constitutional issues involved in possible changes to the devolution settlement including independence for Scotland, thereby outlining in an accessible way the principal issues to policy-makers, researchers and citizens engaging in these processes and debates. What follows is an account of the issues as they were presented and discussed. It tries to cover all of the substantial points raised but is not intended to be a fully comprehensive note of the proceedings.

Keywords: Law, Public law, constitutional law, United Kingdom constitution, United Kingdom devolution, Scottish devolution, Scottish independence, Scotland independence referendum and legality, Scotland Act 1998, nation-state, national identity, nationalism, sovereignty, post-sovereign, popular sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Mullen, Tom and Tierney, Stephen, Scotland's Constitutional Future: The Legal Issues (June 5, 2012). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2013/16, Available at SSRN: or

Tom Mullen

University of Glasgow - School of Law ( email )

Stair Building
5 - 8 The Square
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8QQ
United Kingdom
0141 330 4179 (Phone)

Stephen Tierney (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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