Yesterday, Peter Tobin appeared in Linlithgow Sheriff Court court charged with the murder of Vicky Hamilton, who disappeared in 1991 (a report is on the BBC News website). While Vicky Hamilton was last seen in Scotland, the court proceedings follow the discovery of her body at a house in Kent, meaning that two different jurisdictions are, in some form at least, involved in the case.
By statute, the Scottish courts have jurisdiction over homicides committed by British subjects outside the
The cross-border problems resulting from these rather unsatisfactory statutory rules have been discussed extensively by Michael Hirst (see, amongst other publications, his book Jurisdiction and the Ambit of the Criminal Law (2003), 227-230). As Hirst notes, the issue seems to have been ignored in Robert Black’s 1994 trial, in
Whether the issue is actually a live one in respect of further proceedings in Peter Tobin’s case will depend on the evidence available to the Crown, which is not something on which it would be appropriate to speculate. If the matter does become the subject of argument (and again depending on the terms of any indictment) some reliance may be placed on Laird v HM Advocate 1985 JC 37, where the result of a fraudulent scheme (the payment of money) took place in