[Passed 5-0, Royal Assent: December 20th, 2016]
An ACT to allow for the Sconnish Judiciary to answer certain questions of law that may not be related to any pending civil or criminal case, and for other purposes.
I. SHORT TITLE
This act may be cited for all purposes as “Questions of Law Review Act.”
II. PROVISIONS FOR QUESTIONS OF LAW
A. Any citizen of the Kingdom may file a question of law with the Court of Common Pleas. Questions of law must ask the Court how a certain provision of Sconnish law should be applied, or to clear up any misunderstanding, conflicts, or ambiguity in existing legislation.
B. A question of law may not be asked that is, in the opinion of the Court, directly related to a pending criminal or civil matter before the Sconnish Judiciary. The Court may, at its discretion, reserve the right to consider the question of law after the pending civil or criminal matter has been concluded.
C. After receiving a question of law, the Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (or his designee) shall review the question of law to determine whether or not it should be heard by the Court. The Court should generally refer questions of law for review so long as the following conditions are met in the opinion of the reviewing judicial officer:
C1: The question of law is asking for interpretation of existing Sconnish law, or to clear up any misunderstandings, conflicts, or ambiguity in existing legislation.
C2: The question of law does not touch upon matters being dealt with by a pending civil or criminal matter before any Sconnish Court
C3: The question of law is not frivolous, malicious, or dilatory.
D. If a determination is made by the judicial officer that the question of law should be presented to the Court of Common Pleas, the Chief Judge shall hear the matter himself or shall sit with a panel of three judges to provide an answer to the question of law.
E. If a determination is made by the judicial officer that the question of law does not meet the requirements to be considered by the Court of Common Pleas, the matter will proceed no further.
F. The judicial officer shall have the power to make clerical amendments to the question of law, request that the question of law be reworded, or to accept certain questions of law and reject others.
III. OPINIONS ON QUESTIONS OF LAW
A. The Court of Common Pleas shall deliberate on the question of law and then render an opinion in the matter.
B. Each judge shall issue a separate opinion. It shall be in order for a judge to simply state that they agree with the opinion of another judge. Judges may file separate opinions joining, concurring, dissenting, or concurring in part and dissenting part with the opinion of the court. A majority of judges must agree to an answer to a question of law. If a majority cannot be reached, the question of law shall be referred to the Court of His Majesty in Parliament.
C. Opinions in answer to questions of law shall be publicly posted in the Tartannac Gazette for public review and inspection.
D. Opinions of the Court of Common Pleas shall constitute persuasive precedent in answering questions of law for the Kingdom and for any future cases that may come before the Court. Any answer to a question of law which comes from the Court of His Majesty in Parliament or the Court of Lord High Steward shall be considered binding precedent on the Court of Common Pleas.
E. His Majesty’s Government shall, in His Majesty’s name, faithfully execute the laws of the Kingdom of Scone in accordance with the Court’s interpretation of the law laid out in such opinions.
IV. Appeals and Limitations to Findings of Law
A. Questions of law may only be answered in such a way as to provide interpretation for existing law. Questions of law may not be used to create new laws.
B. His Majesty’s Government or the individual who initially brought the question of law before the Court may appeal the Court’s findings to the Court of His Majesty in Parliament. Such an appeal request shall be reviewed by the Lord Chancellor or his designee who shall determine whether or not there is sufficient reason as outlined in Section 9.C of the Judicial Proceedings Act 2016.
C. If an appeal is granted and Parliament is not in session, the Lord Chancellor or his designee shall have the power to determine whether to forward the case to the Court of Lord High Steward for review or to hold the case for consideration until Parliament reconvenes.
This legislation and all the provisions therein shall come into force upon receiving the Royal Assent.