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right first time: A practical guide for public authorities in Scotland to decision-making and the law



Murray Sinclair photoPerhaps more than ever before, law permeates everything. Particularly so, in the context of public administration, with the rise of judicial review, the development of administrative law, the Human Rights Act and (not least, here in Scotland) the Scotland Act.

That was a message conveyed by myself and others at a recent meeting of the Scottish Government's Strategic Board. It prompted the Board to commission this work (to some extent inspired by the UK Treasury Solicitor's publication, The Judge Over Your Shoulder). It is intended as a practical guide for public authorities in Scotland to decision-making and the law. The Government is of course committed to public services that are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs. This guide is designed to aid the fulfilment of that commitment by helping to ensure that relevant decisions are taken on a sound legal footing.

A number of people helped in contributing to the development of this guide. Colleagues across the Scottish Government provided invaluable feedback on its contents as it has developed. So too did colleagues from the universities, especially Professor Chris Himsworth. We are grateful to them all.

But particular praise and gratitude are due to the team of Scottish Government lawyers who led the project and who played the essential role in its design, content and delivery. They are named below. I commend and thank all of them for this excellent piece of work.

We hope this will prove a helpful and practical guide for everyone involved in taking decisions by or on behalf of public authorities in Scotland. But we'd really value your help in making it as good as it can be. So if you have any comments you'd like to make upon it, and, in particular, suggestions for improvements that might be taken into account in future editions, please email

The Team: Shona Bathgate, Nicholas Duffy, Shirley Ferguson, Jane Ferrier, Graham Fisher, Alison Fraser, Paul Johnston, Claire Meikle and Keith White.

Murray Sinclair
Solicitor to the Scottish Government