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Law reform roundup

14 July 14

Recent work of the Law Reform Department, including Deregulation Bill; Consumer Rights Bill; Infrastructure Bill; Housing (Scotland) Bill

Deregulation Bill

The Society continues to press the UK Parliament with its concerns over the partial authorisation of insolvency practitioners. In a letter to Scottish peers, the Society highlighted that in Scotland significant parts of corporate insolvency are linked to bankruptcy legislation, and are not separate as in England & Wales. The proposed regime will not allow for partial authorisation as an insolvency practitioner because of this linkage. The Society will be submitting an amendment at committee stage.

Consumer Rights Bill

This bill reaches its second reading in the Lords in July. The Society welcomes and agrees with the policy intentions to strengthen the rights of UK consumers, but has concerns around the use of “consideration”, which is not a recognised legal term in Scotland. It also questions why the bill does not provide any right of rejection for digital content, considered in a previous consultation, nor make any reference to continuous payment authorities, or “recurring payments”, often used in the payday loan market, by which the debtor gives the lender their card details and authorises it to take regular payments from their account.

Infrastructure Bill

Only two clauses relate to Scotland. Part 4, clause 26 gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations for a community electricity right. This will allow residents and groups in a community to buy a stake in a local renewable electricity generation facility located onshore or offshore. Clause 27 permits regulations to be made which confer functions on others in relation to the community electricity right. The terms of the regulations will need to be consulted on in early course if the Government is to find the correct balance between encouraging community involvement and encouraging private sector development in renewable energy projects.

Housing (Scotland) Bill

The Society submitted amendments at stage 3, proposing that there should be provision for removal of a letting agent from the register on request. A person may wish to be removed for a number of reasons, including change of career, retirement or sale of the business. The Society was pleased to see that this was passed. It also called for an amendment which would void all contracts for letting agency between a landlord and a letting agent where the latter is refused access to or removed from the register; and an amendment to remove the potential for bringing people into the regulatory net who should not be included, such as tradespeople, insurance companies, house factors and others. 

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
The team can be contacted on any of the matters above through louisedocherty@lawscot.org.uk, or follow us on Twitter: @lawscot

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