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Law reform roundup

16 September 13

Recent work of the Law Reform Department, including bankruptcy; criminal justice; marriage; tribunals; smoking (children in vehicles); immigration

Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill

The Society provided written evidence on the bill to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, noting its concern about proposals to remove many parts of the sequestration process from the Scottish courts. It also commented on the significant potential for conflicts of interest due to the proposed extended role of the Accountant in Bankruptcy. The Society will continue to monitor closely the progress of this bill.

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill

The Society submitted written evidence to the Justice Committee, reiterating its concerns about proposals to abolish the requirement for corroboration in criminal proceedings. The Society warned that to do so without including sufficiently strong safeguards in the bill could result in a contest between two competing statements on oath and, as a result, bring increased risk of miscarriages of justice.

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

The Family Law and Equality Law Subcommittees provided written evidence to the Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee, commenting that the bill will expand the ways in which a couple can choose to define their relationship, whether through same-sex marriage, cohabitation or civil partnership. The Society suggested that in order to help people understand the differences between them and/or choose between them, further definition or explanation of the status of each would be useful.

Tribunals (Scotland) Bill

The Society submitted written evidence to the Justice Committee, commenting that the bill should help to modernise the civil justice system of Scotland. However, it voiced concerns that the bill does not directly address the relationship between courts and tribunals, or the status of the Scottish Tribunals Service. The Society considers that these are areas which require further consideration.

Smoking (Children in Vehicles) 

The Society’s Health & Medical Law and Criminal Law Committees responded to Jim Hume MSP’s consultation on proposals to prohibit smoking in private vehicles while a child under 16 years of age is present. The committee stated that while it was supportive of the general aims and objectives of the bill, it had concerns about the implementation and enforcement of the proposals.

Tackling illegal immigration

The Immigration Law Subcommittee responded to UK Government proposals to tackle illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation. The committee said it was concerned that

in a competitive market for tenancies, the creation of any time lag before a contract can be completed may result in the landlord or agent choosing a tenant who does not need verification. This could have the unintended consequence of tenants being refused tenancies even when their immigration status is perfectly regular.

Full details of the above, and further information on the current work of the Law Reform Department, can be found at www.lawscot.org.uk/forthepublic/law-reform-consultations-and-bills
The team can be contacted via juliabrown@lawscot.org.uk, or follow us on Twitter: @lawscot