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Homicide, family law and personal injury in Commission's Tenth Programme

22 February 2018

New projects on homicide, surrogacy, and aspects of family law and damages for personal injury feature in the Scottish Law Commission's Tenth Programme of Law Reform, published today.

The programme, which followed a public consultation and has been approved by Scottish ministers and laid before the Scottish Parliament, will form the basis for most of the Commission’s work over the next five years.

It also incorporates ongoing work from the Commission’s previous programme: the projects on contract law (which the Commission expects shortly to complete), heritable securities, and aspects of the law of leases.

Topics for the Tenth Programme were selected on the basis of importance – the extent to which the law is in need of reform, and the potential benefits likely to accrue from undertaking reform; suitability, meaning whether the issues concerned are predominantly legal rather than political, and whether there is any other body better placed to examine the topic in question; and the available expertise and experience of Commissioners and legal staff.

The core of the homicide project will examine the principles underlying and the boundaries between the crimes of murder and culpable homicide, and the mental element required for the commission of each of these offences, along with the defences of self-defence, provocation and diminished responsibility.

Two aspects of family law have been identified for consideration: a possible new scheme of financial provision for cohabitants whose relationship breaks down, and the adequacy of remedies for victims of violence and abuse within the family.

On damages for personal injury, the Commission wants to revisit 1982 legislation covering awards in relation to services carried out by relatives, deduction of specified benefits, and awards of provisional damages. A related issue is whetherr arrangements are needed to protect awards in favour of children from misuse by their parents.

Work on the law affecting surrogacy, which is regarded as not keeping up with changing social attitudes and the increasing use of surrogacy, will be carried out as a joint project with the Law Commission for England & Wales. It is one of a number of joint projects that also include insurance, and a new three-year joint project on the law of automated vehicles.

Writing in the foreword, Lord Pentland, the Commission’s chairman, says the programme constitutes "a forward-looking and socially relevant body of work".

He continues: "Our approach will continue to involve close engagement with the many stakeholders who provide such ready support to us in our work of law reform. We will rigorously examine the law, take account of developments in other jurisdictions and come forward with practical proposals for improvement of Scots law."

Click here to view the Tenth Programme.


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