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Society blog

21 Feb 18

Scottish Legal International comes to fruition

Joint initiative aims to promote Scottish profession internationally

30 Aug 17

A paralegal's tale

Janet Rieu-Clarke, the Law Society’s accredited paralegal, explains the path that led her to new role at the Society and the rationale behind the new accredited paralegal status.

30 Aug 17

A call to vote from John Scott

John Scott QC urges his fellow solicitor advocates to vote for their dedicated representative

29 Aug 17

No globalisation without representation...

Katie Hay discusses the globalisation of the legal market and urges Scottish solicitors working internationally, to get involved

24 Jul 17

Bringing the world to "world-class"

Sarah Sutton, digital communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, talks about her bright idea to ensure international representation on the Society’s Council

26 Jun 17

The Debate - backstage, front of house and top tips

In this mini-series of blogs, three key players in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament share their individual perspectives of the event.

19 Jun 17

Got a passion for the profession?

Could one of the 23 current vacancies for 16 different committees be just right for you?

28 Apr 17

Professional Practice - advising the advisers

Scottish solicitors help their clients through some of the most momentous occasions of their lives, personal or professional, good or bad. But where do solicitors turn for support? Prof Prac, that's where.

1 Nov 16

How getting involved in debating can change your life

Head of education Rob Marrs explains how getting involved in debating, whether as competitor or judge, can be incredibly rewarding. And more importantly, he explains how to win a debate.

14 Oct 16

Career development and volunteering at the Law Society of Scotland

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or just give back to your profession, there are lots of different personal and professional development opportunities at the Society

Editors Blog

Speaking out

11 Jun 18

The benefit sanctions system has drawn some unusually sharp comments from the Society, but the need for such strictures is likely to increase

Aside from the neverending standoff over legal aid rates, it is not often that the Law Society of Scotland chooses to be sharply critical of the Government, at Scottish or UK level. As an apolitical organisation, it can be difficult to take a strongly critical line without abandoning that stance.

It makes it the more notable, therefore, that in a response to a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry, a Society committee has weighed in trenchantly against the sanctions system currently applied against welfare benefit claimants who are deemed to have failed to comply with DWP requirements.

Consider these comments, from the Administrative Justice Subcommittee. It may be only the widespread provision of food banks that prevents Government policy breaching human rights in general – and breaches may well have occurred in individual cases. The “penal effects” of sanctions have been exacerbated by the removal of an immediate right of appeal to an independent tribunal, due to the mandatory reconsideration process. There is no means of independently monitoring the quality of DWP decision-making, which evidence suggests “should be a matter of considerable concern”. The current regime, taken with other changes, has “fostered a hostile environment... and the emergence of a caustic relationship between DWP and its customers,” whereas the benefits system “ought more properly to be more caring and supportive”. Overall, the operation of the current regime “is widely regarded as grossly unfair and brings the benefits system into disrepute”. These are only a selection.

Given some of the personal accounts of those facing severe hardship after having been sanctioned due to circumstances beyond their control, it does seem somewhat fanciful for ministers or their supporters to claim that the regime is proportionate, fair or just – and the subcommittee also believes it does not even meet the policy objective of assisting claimants into work.

In those circumstances, a body dedicated to access to justice and the rule of law has every right, and even the duty, to speak out as part of its duty to stand up for the public interest.

The prospect has to be faced that in the present political climate, the Society may be faced with making more interventions such as this. What has been termed post-truth or post-factual politics brings its own reality, and that is the increasing reliance on questionable assertions that yet carry a powerful appeal to significant sections of the public. To stand up for the values mentioned above in the face of such political winds may not feel comfortable, but may be no less necessary.


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Blog archive

7 Oct 19

High noon

The welcome decision of the UK Supreme Court in the prorogation case shows the need for a court free from political influence

9 Sep 19

Courts and politics

Courts should be able to intervene if an abuse of power threatens the balance between executive and legislature

12 Aug 19

Constitutional meltdown?

The fundamentals of our constitution should not be put at risk simply in order to achieve Brexit by the scheduled date

8 Jul 19

70, and counting

The Society is in good shape as it turns 70, though uncertainty lies ahead

12 Jun 19

Uncovering the unacceptable

Our self-styled ethical profession has a problem of bullying and harassment. Can it be treated as a question of fitness to practise?

15 May 19

Make wellbeing a thing

Staff wellbeing in legal firms has to become a matter of culture, with supporting mechanisms in place

8 Apr 19

Law for people

The dignity of the law has come before the dignity of those caught up in its processes. What might happen if that were reversed?

12 Mar 19

Shape your future

Despite the uncertainty, it would benefit legal firms to think proactively about how to react to Brexit

11 Feb 19

Flexible is possible

As this month's lead feature illustrates, large and small firms alike can operate flexible working practices, and there appear to be few issues with clients when they do

14 Jan 19

Seeking the positive

A bit of flexibility and imagination can achieve things this year, whether for a business in the face of Brexit or for employees to improve their work-life balance, and wellbeing