Almost lost in the hubbub of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s annual general meeting on March 11, 2000, in Glasgow, was the overturning of the “consensus judging” approach for the major championships.
For the past number of years, judges have been allowed to discuss their results for 15 minutes after the last band has competed, with an aim to better consolidate opinions from the bench. It was decided by the membership at the meeting that consultative judging would not be allowed starting with the 2000 season.
Since its inception in 1994, the format has been a contentious issue at RSPBA championships. Some contend that the consultation process allows judges with stronger and more persuasive personalities to unduly influence their quieter colleagues. Others say that the process allows for a team approach to determining results.
There have also been allegations that the system now rejected has been abused by adjudicators who seem bent on representing bands that play the merchandise they manufacture.
One RSPBA judge wishing to remain anonymous commented that he thought that the consultative process had worked very well for the most part, and was sad to see it rejected.
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