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Lord Clerk Register appointed

27/04/2007

Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT has been appointed to the offices of Lord Clerk Register and Keeper of the Signet by HM The Queen.

Lord Mackay is a former Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Lord Advocate. He became a judge in the Court of Session in 1984 and was appointed to the appellate committee of the House of Lords the following year. He subsequently served as Lord Chancellor from 1987 to 1997, becoming one of the longest serving holders of that post. Lord Mackay was also Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2005 and 2006.

The office is largely ceremonial in nature and carries no remuneration or special privileges, other than its status as an ancient historic office. The previous Lord Clerk Register, the Earl of Wemyss and March KT, held the office for over 30 years from 1974. The appointment is made by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister.

The Lord Clerk Register is one of the great officers of state of Scotland. The other officers of state are the Keeper of the Great Seal (now the First Minister), the Lord Advocate, the Lord Justice-Clerk, and the Lord Justice General. The holder is one of the Commissioners of the Regalia of Scotland, and is the Keeper of Her Majesty's Signet. The Commissioners have responsibility for the safekeeping of the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) and the Stone of Destiny. The Signet is a seal bearing the Royal Arms which has to be impressed on all summonses from the Court of Session before they can be issued. It gives the pursuer authority on behalf of the Queen to serve the writ on the defender.

In his capacity as Keeper of the Signet, the Lord Clerk Register also fulfils a ceremonial function as the senior officer of the Society of Writers to the Signet. The WS Society dates back to 1594 is now an independent, non-regulatory association of solicitors, mostly Edinburgh-based.