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Letter of the Law
Thursday, 5th July 2018
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Price setting software could breach competition law

The use of optimisation tools to analyse data and prices could inadvertently breach competition law, according to Michael Dean, a partner in the Competition team at Dentons’ Glasgow office. The software is used by online marketplace sellers, to ensure their prices are not being undercut by competitors. Mr Dean has pointed, however, to a European Commission probe which found that the automatic systems used by multiple companies could be analysing the same data and providing the same pricing instructions. “Ignorance is no defence”, he said, adding a recent case where pricing software was deliberately used by two online sellers to collude on prices saw one company director disqualified and facing extradition to the US to face further charges.

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland Insider


Justice Committee seeks views on pre-recorded evidence bill

Holyrood’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the Vulnerable Witnesses Bill, currently going through the Scottish Parliament, which proposes greater use of pre-recorded video evidence in court in the most serious criminal cases. While protecting children and vulnerable adults from potential further trauma from cross-examination in court, it is also thought that pre-recording testimony may also produce better evidence as it will be possible to record statements sooner, while the events are fresher. Feedback can be submitted to the committee until August 29th.



More civil litigation funding options for Scotland

New laws introducing increased funding options for civil claims in the Scottish courts, as well as allowing solicitors in Scotland to enter into damages-based agreements (DBAs) and speculative fee agreements (SFAs), have now been finalised. Craig Connal QC, a commercial litigation expert at Pinsent Masons, looks at the implications of the law, which include greater flexibility of terms for litigation funding than there is in England and Wales.



Travellers urged to abide by the law

Dundee Cllr Kevin Keenan, who represents the Strathmartine Ward, has urged the Traveller community to make use of a purpose-built caravan park at Balmuir Wood in Tealing, rather than set up on unauthorised sites such as the Camperdown Leisure Park. A Dundee City Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the situation and are continuing to monitor it.”

Dundee Evening Telegraph





Phase 2 of Sisters of Nazareth abuse hearing closes

The second phase of hearings into allegations of abuse at children's homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth in Scotland religious order has drawn to a close, following weeks of "powerful, compelling and disturbing" testimony. Over 70 people have offered evidence into alleged abuses at homes in Aberdeen, Lasswade, Kilmarnock and Cardonald, including physical abuse, force feeding and humiliation. John Scott QC, representing the group In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas), noted however that regardless of the evidence, it has been “hard or even impossible for some to accept that any of the abuse occurred, indeed before this inquiry some focussed on the most extreme or ‘fantastical’ allegations to suggest that all allegations must have been fabricated… I suggest that it is absolutely clear that abuse happened in various Nazareth houses”. The inquiry, before Lady Smith, will resume in October with hearings into residential care at Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardo’s.

Daily Record


Catalan professor facing treason charges in Scotland

Catalonia’s president Quim Torra is to visit Scotland next week to meet Nicola Sturgeon and Clara Ponsati, a former minister from the region facing extradition. Professor Ponsati is being sought by the Spanish authorities on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds over her role in the controversial Catalan independence referendum last year. Mr Torra's visit will follow the latest procedural hearing for Ms Ponsati's case at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, when her team will argue that Spain’s prosecution is “politically motivated” and that the condition of "dual criminality" - the issue of establishing equivalent charges in Scots law - is not fulfilled, and a European arrest warrant should not be executed. But Ponsati's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, has said the Advocate Depute, acting on behalf of Spain, has advised she faces the equivalent charge of treason in Scots law.

The Herald





Data sharing helps Scotland save £19m in waste and fraud

A crackdown on public sector waste and fraud by Audit Scotland has made almost £19m of savings. The latest round of the National Fraud Initiative uncovered more than 10,000 errors and cases of fraud in 2016-17, relating to anything from blue parking badges, removing council tax discounts and cancelling pensions being paid to people who have died. Using databases and records held by UK and Scottish public-sector departments and agencies, the initiative has now saved a total of £129.2m since 2006-7. Across the UK, a total of £1.69bn has been saved over the past decade.

The Scotsman The Press and Journal


New Consumer Scotland body mooted

Scottish ministers are considering establishing a new investigatory body called Consumer Scotland, which would be tasked with developing specific solutions to issues harming the public. A Scottish Government consultation states that Scotland's unregulated legal services market could be an area "ripe for an in-depth investigation".

The Herald


Legal 'top sector' for salary growth

A new report from CV-Library has revealed that the legal sector was among the top five areas for UK salary growth in June. Advertised salaries for new roles across all sectors were up 1.2% in the month, with legal pay up 13.1% and accounting by 2.3%.

City AM





Scottish politicians appeal against UK’s Brexit policy

A cross-party group of Scottish politicians have launched an appeal against Lord Boyd's refusal to refer their case to the European Court of Justice. They believe Theresa May's policy to limit Parliament to voting to either accept any negotiated EU deal or adopting a so called "hard" Brexit is unlawful and that it is lawful for British Parliamentarians to instruct the Government to withdraw its Article 50 notification.

The Herald


Post-Brexit possibilities for Scotland’s constitution

As the Scottish Parliament prepares to mark the 20th anniversary next July of its first tranche of devolved powers, Charles Mullin, Convener of the Constitutional Law and Human Rights Sub-Committee at the Law Society of Scotland, examines what Brexit might mean for Holyrood.

Shepherd and Wedderburn





Property investment doubles in Q2

Analysis by CBRE shows that investment in Scottish property rose in the second quarter, with the total value of deals almost double that of a year earlier. Investment in the three months to the end of June reached £528m, compared to the £288m recorded in Q2 2017 and the five-year average for the quarter of £275m. Alistair Wright of CBRE noted that there had been a “significant shift” to retail sector deals across the last quarter compared to the first quarter of the year.

The Scotsman The Press and Journal





Finalists named for 2018 Insider Deals & Dealmakers Awards

The finalists have been announced in this year’s Business Insider Deals and Dealmakers Awards, in six categories including Legal Advisor of the Year. The three contenders for the accolade are Burness Paull, Macdonald Henderson, and Turcan Connell. The awards take place on Wednesday 5th September at the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow.






PM urged to investigate donations to Scottish Conservatives

Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to investigate donations to the Scottish Conservatives, following claims that a trust with links to the party may have been used to obscure the source of funds given to it. At PMQs on Wednesday, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford claimed the Tories were "systematically shielding their donations" from view, a reference to the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, which is currently being investigated by the Electoral Commission. The SUAT has donated over £319,000 to various Scottish Conservative initiatives over the last 17 years, potentially breaching rules governing the maximum allowed each calendar year. In response, Mrs May said all donations to her party were "accepted and declared in accordance with the law".

BBC News The Scotsman

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