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The Royal Prerogative of Mercy

The Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) can be used to pardon or remit punishment in exceptional cases in which the due process of the law has produced a result that clearly involves an unjust conviction or punishment for which that process has no remedy. It is exercised in Scotland by The Queen on the advice of the First Minister.

There are no "rules" on the RPM in the sense of a series of guidelines. Each case is looked at on its own merits, though against the background of precedent and convention as to the use of the RPM. The RPM may be exercised notwithstanding the fact that a conviction has been upheld on appeal.

While the process of referral to the High Court by the SCCRC has largely superseded the RPM, it remains in place. In practice while there have been applications made from time to time, no cases have been referred since 1980.

Use of the RPM is regarded now as very much a final safeguard where injustice cannot be corrected by other means. Wherever possible, recourse to court-based remedies is seen to be the more appropriate procedure. The Law Reform Division remains responsible for advising Ministers on the exercise of the RPM.

Any individual (or members of their family if deceased) who believe they have been wrongly convicted or charged in Scotland and as a result suffered a miscarriage of justice, may apply to the Scottish Ministers for compensation.

The existence of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy is an integral part of the constitutional system which exists to protect the citizen against apossible miscarriage of justice. The 605 Secretary of State should not hesitate to recommend the exercise of that power if he has substantial grounds for believing that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred for which there is no remedy available in the courts. Forum Index -> Test Forum 1
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Sincere thanks to all those who have supported Shirley and challenged miscarriages of justice on this forum.