Not guilty

Should Scotland scrap the ‘not proven’ verdict?

Guilty or Not Guilty: for the majority of the English-speaking world these words are synonymous with the two verdicts at a trial. Not so in Scotland. Scotland prides herself on her idiosyncrasies – in food, drink, and inclement weather – and also in the form of a verdict unknown elsewhere: ‘not proven’. In Scotland, this third verdict has been used since the late 17th century as a form of acquittal, alongside ‘not guilty’. A stranger to this arcane tradition would be forgiven for assuming a legal distinction between these two verdicts. Perhaps a ‘not proven’ verdict opens up future avenues for the prosecution, or impacts the appeals process? It does