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Law reform roundup

17 March 14

Recent work of the Law Reform Department, including Criminal Justice Bill; lobbying inquiry; Immigration Bill; Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill; Energy Law Committee

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill

The Society continues to press for s 57, which abolishes the requirement for corroboration, to be removed from the bill.

Criminal law convener Ian Cruickshank has been appointed to Lord Bonomy’s review group. While the Society will fully engage with the review, it firmly believes that removing s 57, to allow for a statutory review examining how the corroboration requirement works with all other aspects of the Scottish criminal justice system, followed by a short bill to give effect to any recommendations, is the best way forward.

Lobbying inquiry

In oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures & Public Appointments Committee inquiry into lobbying, the Society advised that plans to increase transparency at Holyrood are unlikely to be effective unless a clear, straightforward definition is provided for what constitutes “lobbying” and who is a “lobbyist”; and that clear lobbying rules are needed in order to ensure public trust.

Immigration Bill

A briefing to peers on the Immigration Bill expressed the Society’s concerns about plans to remove judicial discretion in cases that engage the European Convention, article 8 right to respect for private and family life. The bill proposes that “little weight should be given” to a private life or relationship when a person’s immigration status is “precarious”.The Society is concerned that these measures limit judicial discretion and human rights in the UK, and may be incompatible with European human rights law.

Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill

The Tax Law Committee submitted written evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill. It acknowledged the bill’s attempt to strike a balance between meeting the immediate needs for existing devolved taxes, and establishing the framework which could be extended to more, or all, taxes in due course. In striking this balance, it urged that priority is given to creating an effective system for the taxes already devolved, rather than attempting to be comprehensive, given the restricted legislative timeframe and resources available.

Energy Law Committee

The first meeting of the Society’s new Energy Law Committee took place on 24 February. The committee will consider and respond to proposals for reform of the law in Scotland, in particular looking at the oil and gas and renewable sectors.

The committee appointed Richard Hothersall from McClure Naismith as convener and Aileen McCallum from HBJ Gateley as vice convener. Other members are Stephen Rennie, Laura Bogucki, Aileen McCallum, Gail Watt, Richard Hothersall, Sarah Beattie-Smith, William Braes and Sarah Jane McArthur.

The committee is still recruiting for new members. Please contact Brian Simpson briansimpson@lawscot.org.uk / 0131 476 8184 for further information.

Full details of the above, and further information on the 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 

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