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Public policy highlights

17 September 18

Recent work of the Society's policy committees, including Brexit: environmental principles; claims management companies; GMC review of homicide; rural economy post-Brexit

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 the research and policy section of the Society website.

Brexit: environmental principles

The Environmental Law Subcommittee responded to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ consultation on environmental principles and governance after EU exit.

It noted that the principles referred to in the consultation do not align with those set out in s 16(2) of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The Act requires the Secretary of State to publish a draft bill containing the set of environmental principles detailed within s 16(2). It also noted that s 13B of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill contains a different set of principles again to those found in this consultation and in the EU (Withdrawal) Act.

The committee feels that strong collaboration between the UK Government and the devolved administrations is important. This is particularly significant given the trans-boundary effects of environmental impacts. Consistency in the way these principles are applied should ensure that international environmental obligations are met.

Regulation of claims management companies

The Consumer Law Subcommittee responded to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) consultation on proposed regulation of claims management companies.

On several previous occasions the Society has stated that it believes that all those providing legal services to the consumer should be regulated, including claims management companies. This view was expressly stated in its recent submissions to the Scottish Government independent review of legal services.

It therefore welcomes the proposed regulation of claims management companies by the FCA being extended to Scotland under the provisions of the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018.

GMC review of homicide

The Criminal Law Committee responded to the independent review of gross negligence manslaughter (GNM) and culpable homicide commissioned by the General Medical Council. A fuller article is online, discussing the reasons why an increase in successful GNM prosecutions in England & Wales has not been reflected in Scotland, and the considerations at play in any reform.

Rural economy: post-Brexit transition

The Rural Affairs Subcommittee responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on options to stabilise and simplify income support for land managers in Scotland in the period immediately after Brexit.

It welcomes the general themes of stability and security for producers, land managers and businesses. This is important as the negotiations in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU continue, and will likely assist in ensuring stability for consumers.

The committee noted that it is important that any system of support is lawful and comprehensive. It will be necessary for any system to be comprehensible and transparent so that it can be understood by those that it will affect. It is crucial to upholding the rule of law that the law is clear and has specification. Individuals and organisations must be able to guide their conduct based on clear and understandable legal standards. This is particularly important in the context of the penalty regime. 

The team can be contacted on any of the matters above at policy@lawscot.org.uk or on Twitter: @lawscot
 

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