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Campaign for Scots law in contracts

10 Sep 18

Society should lead push for Scots consumers to have choice

[To the President of the Law Society of Scotland]

Hello Alison, and congratulations in securing the presidency.

It could be argued that above all else the Society's primary purpose is the development of Scots law, as without it there would be no need for the Society.

I have been taking particular interest in a number of personal and business consumer contracts of late, and find to my horror that a huge number are governed by English law and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

It occurs to me that most folk, whether lawyers or not, don't read the small print, but the effect is the marginalisation of Scots law, which is not good for Scots lawyers or the right of Scottish people to contract under their own national laws.

You may be interested to hear that these consumer contracts include virtually all mobile phone contracts, the supply of office equipment by credit sale, leasing and hire purchase, delivery services including Royal Mail, supermarket online food delivery services, some credit card services, and many insurance policies not covered by the EU Insurance Directives. Few ever offer a choice of jurisdiction.

I have even just had the ridiculous situation where in order to access a website hosting the title pack for a housing development in Bearsden, I was required to register with it and accept the terms and conditions of which the exclusive jurisdiction was the English court system. I refused and told the Scottish branch office of the English regulated firm what I thought of them. I await their response.

My rantings are not these of a geriatric Scottish Nationalist (though I am a Scottish Nationalist and I'm getting on), but something which should concern every Scots lawyer, as this denial of our legal system strikes at every consumer in our country.

As a first step I would ask that the Society reviews every contract it enters into to ensure that the Scottish courts have jurisdiction. If, as I suspect, there will be some not governed by Scots law, I trust that in the interests of transparency the Society will own up.

Secondly, I would ask the Council of the Society to embark on a campaign to ensure that all Scottish consumers have the choice to use Scots law and that the Council becomes the evangelist for Scots law. I would happily serve on a committee tasked with this work.

Graeme McCormick, Glasgow

 

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