12: The Succession to Titles and Coats of Arms: Is there a case for law reform?
by Prof. Gillian Black
In Scotland, titles and coats of arms vest in the successor according to the bloodline (the jure sanguinis) and, with the advent of DNA testing, it is now very easy to establish whether the heir is indeed the true genetic heir to a title or honour. Moreover, DNA testing can also lead to the re-opening of a succession which happened in past generations, unsettling an established family succession of decades or even centuries. However, this fixation on genetics is at odds with the approach in family law over the last 20 years, and indeed with the historical position, when genetic descent typically could not be established with such scientific certainty. What role should the jus sanguinis play in Scots law in the future? How should we deal with questions of succession to titles and coats of arms in this age of DNA?
Image caption: The Pringle coat of arms.
About the speaker
Gillian Black is Professor of Scots Private Law at Edinburgh University, specialising in family law and contract law. Her work in family law brings together her interests in the legal regulation of families with her long-standing interest in heraldry. She is a trustee of the Lord Lyon Society, a member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In 2021 she was appointed as Linlithgow Pursuivant Extraordinary by the Lord Lyon. She also enjoys exploring graveyards and runs a Twitter account Scottish Graveyard Heraldry: @SHeraldry!
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