Public policy highlights
Recent work of the Society's policy committees, including prescription; management of offenders; protection of retail workers; LBTT
The Society’s policy committees have had a busy month analysing and responding to proposed changes in the law. Key areas are highlighted below. For more information see www.lawscot.org.uk/research-and-policy/
Prescription (Scotland) Bill
The Obligations Committee, with input from other policy committees, submitted written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee on the Prescription (Scotland) Bill at stage 1.
It welcomes the introduction of this bill, which would modernise and bring greater clarity to the law, while pointing out a number of matters which merit further consideration.
These include claims that have prescribed under the existing law but would not have prescribed under the new rules, or where the prescriptive period under the new rules would run from a later date.
Management of offenders
The Criminal Law Committee submitted written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill at stage 1.
It fully supports the policy objectives set out in part 1 of the bill, to expand the use and provision of electronic monitoring of offenders. This increases the options available to manage offenders, as well as providing opportunities for those suspected of offending who may be eligible for remand.
On part 2, the committee supports the policy intention to clarify the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 so that the requirement to disclose a conviction is better understood by the public.
It also provided comments in relation to part 3, which revises the organisation and function of the Parole Board for Scotland.
Protection of retail workers
The Criminal Law Committee responded to MSP Daniel Johnson’s proposal for a bill to create an offence, or offences, to increase the protection of workers in the retail sector, particularly those applying or enforcing an age restriction in relation to the sale or supply of goods or services.
From the evidence supplied, there seems little doubt that those working in the retail sector experience unacceptable abuse and violence. The committee understands the intentions behind the proposed bill.
However, it is not persuaded that any failure to prosecute arises in relation to any incidents where such conduct occurs and is criminal. There are several respects in which the evidence in the consultation does not appear to support the creation of either a separate or new offence that includes a statutory aggravation.
The committee believes that the current common and statutory law adequately covers those working in the retail sector where offences occur. Additionally, judges are already required to take account of the circumstances of the offence on conviction. This will include any aggravation where the offence is committed in the situations covered by the consultation.
LBTT group relief
The Tax Law Committee responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on an amendment to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013 to allow group relief to apply where there is a land transaction between one company and another company within its corporate group structure, and a share pledge or equivalent arrangement is in place.
It welcomes the changes to allow companies that have granted share pledges to claim LBTT group relief. It is very important for such changes to have effect from the introduction of LBTT. As the consultation paper points out, primary legislation is needed to achieve this.
The Policy team can be contacted on any of the matters above at firstname.lastname@example.org