Law reform roundup
Recent work of the Society's Law Reform Department, including Scotland Bill; Land Registration Bill; alcohol minimum pricing; criminal sentencing; and a round table event
The Scotland Bill’s committee stage in the House of Lords was still ongoing at time of writing. The Society submitted a number of amendments, including restating its position on clause 17, that acts of the Lord Advocate should remain within devolution minute procedure and clause 17 should be deleted. The Society is pleased that its position on potential variations to both speed and drink driving limits in Scotland should be reflected in both the Highway Code and the driving test.
Land Registration etc (Scotland) Bill
A working group consisting of members of the Property, Banking and Criminal Law committees of the Society has fully considered and submitted written evidence on the bill, as well as providing oral evidence to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. The Society’s main concerns centre on s 108, which would create a criminal offence of submitting an application for registration which contains false or misleading information. See also separate article.
Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill
Jim Maclean, convener of the Licensing Law Subcommittee, and Alan McCreadie, Deputy Director of Law Reform, gave oral evidence to the Health and Sport Committee on 31 January, reinforcing the Society’s view that the legality of the Government’s proposals on minimum pricing can only be finally determined by the European Court of Justice. Compatibility with EU duty directives requires to be considered, as well as issues concerning the free movement of goods in terms of the EU Treaties.
Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review)
The Society provided written and oral evidence to the Justice Committee in January on this bill, which seeks to address the discrepancies between determinate and indeterminate sentences which arose following the recent case of Petch and Foye v HM Advocate. The current sentencing system has the effect of allowing prisoners sentenced to an indeterminate sentence to be considered for parole at an earlier stage than a prisoner sentenced to a determinate sentence. The Society’s view is that the bill will not give a clear legislative solution to this issue, but will further complicate the sentencing system.
Round table with Mario Joseph
On 17 January the Society hosted a round table discussion with Mario Joseph, a leading human rights lawyer from Haiti and Director of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). He has managed or co-managed the BAI since 1996 and is Co-director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The discussion included details of a case he is involved in against the UN over the introduction of the cholera virus to Haiti. Those attending included solicitors, advocates and members of the law reform team.
Further information on the work of the Law Reform Department is at www.lawscot.org.uk/forthe public/law-reform-consultations, and the team can be contacted on any of the matters above at firstname.lastname@example.org