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Letter of the Law
Wednesday, 19th June 2019
A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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CMA to review Roberton report

The Competitions and Markets Authority is to carry out a review for the Scottish Government of whether competition in the legal services market in Scotland would be improved by the proposals in the Roberton review, which proposed that a single independent body be set up to regulate the legal profession, in place of the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates. The review will examine whether there is evidence of a lack of competition among legal services providers in Scotland, and also the look at the impact of the current legal services regulatory framework in Scotland on competition, particularly on innovation and the entry of new business models to the market.

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland







Knives initiative reaches 100k youngsters

No Knives Better Lives (NKBL), a national programme to deter youngsters from carrying knives, has reached an estimated 100,000 young people since it was established a decade ago. A 10-year report suggests that the YouthLink Scotland initiative has contributed to an 85% reduction in the number of young people convicted of handling an offensive weapon since 2008/09. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the programme had delivered "substantial, sometimes life-changing" prevention activity, adding: “We have seen a significant, 85% reduction in the number of young people under 18 convicted of handling an offensive weapon, from 456 in 2008/09 to 68 in 2017/18, alongside the wider fall in violent crime.” YouthLink Scotland chief executive Tim Frew said that while the reduction is good news, “it is important not to see our work as complete regarding the issues of knife carrying, conflict and violence.” He added: "The cyclical nature of the problem, coupled with the small increase in knife crime prevalence in 2018 means that it is important we do not rest on our laurels."

The Scotsman The Herald





MSPs call for views on proposed stronger FGM law

Holyrood’s Equalities & Human Rights Committee is inviting views from the public as it begins its detailed scrutiny of the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill. Under the legislation, FGM protection orders could be made, imposing conditions or requirements on individuals to protect someone from FGM, or to keep an FGM victim safe, as is already the case in England and Wales. The committee would particularly like to hear submissions on whether protection orders and statutory guidance will be more effective in preventing FGM and safeguarding those at risk than the current approach.

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland


Fresh calls for end to greyhound racing

Greyhound racing is “outdated and cruel”, and has no place in modern Scotland, according to campaigners calling for the sport to be banned. Gill Docherty, who organises a protest every Saturday evening at Shawfield in Glasgow – Scotland’s only registered greyhound stadium – also told the BBC “there is no place for it in our country anymore”. Recent figures from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain reveal that, across the UK, a total of 932 racing greyhounds died last year, with 242 of these deaths happening trackside.

BBC News


Law reformers open first consultation on securities over land

A new discussion paper from the Scottish Law Commission sets out proposals for the reform of securities granted over land and buildings in Scotland, the first of two studies, covering loans both to individuals and to businesses. It considers creation, variation, transfer and discharge of standard securities, as well as which types of obligation can be secured. A second discussion paper on enforcement is scheduled for late 2020.

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland






Long-term empty homes in Scotland up 5.5% in a year

National Records of Scotland statistics show that the number of long-term empty homes has risen 5.5% in a year. The data shows that 39,300 homes were empty for six months or more in 2018, an increase of 2,000 on 2017, while the number of second homes has fallen 2.8% in the same period, to 25,000. The figures also reveal that 96% of houses in Scotland are occupied, 1% are second homes and 3% are empty. The report shows that there were 2.62m dwellings in Scotland in 2018, saying empty and second homes “were not spread evenly across the country,” and detailing how remote rural areas had the highest percentage of dwellings that were vacant or second homes. Andy Wightman, housing spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “People are crying out for affordable housing, yet we have a total of over 100,000 empty and under-used second homes across Scotland.” “It’s incredulous that the proportion of empty homes is rising and astonishing that not all councils have empty homes officers to bring properties into use,” he added.

Shropshire Star


Developers hand over housing in Aberdeenshire

Two developers are handing over a total of 63 new homes to Aberdeenshire Council as part of the council’s new build housing strategy which has seen 151 new homes built across 11 sites over the past year. Some 57 flats and houses in Peterhead and Oldmeldrum have been handed over by CHAP Construction, while Bancon Homes has provided six flats in Inverurie. The homes represent an investment of almost £11m, supported by Scottish Government funding.

Aberdeen Evening Express







Climate change activists charged after Edinburgh roads blocked

Thirteen climate change campaigners have been charged after several major streets, including Lothian Road were blocked off in Edinburgh city centre on Monday night. The road blocks were part of "direct action" by climate protestors, including Extinction Rebellion Scotland. Activists from the group are camping outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of MSPs discussing the Climate Change Bill; they are calling on them to do more in response to what they call a "climate crisis and ecological breakdown".

BBC News


QC in legal fight over pension

Colin McEachran, QC, has launched an employment tribunal against the Government because he received no pension himself for his role heading up the country's war pension appeals body. The retired advocate, who was president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland between 1995 and 2013, says that during the period he did similar work for other full-time judicial figures, but while they received a pension, he did not. The Scottish Government argues that the other legal officials received pensions because their roles were included in the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993.

The Herald


Family call for scrutiny over restraint death

The family of Sheku Bayoh, a man who died after being restrained by police, have warned Scotland’s chief prosecutor against a “cynical attempt” to escape parliamentary scrutiny. Aamer Anwar – the lawyer acting for the man’s family – has written to Lord Advocate James Wolffe, demanding the result of a review into the decision not to prosecute anyone over the incident is not released while the Scottish Parliament is in recess over the summer.

Daily Record





First Turcan Connell trainee named chair

Turcan Connell has announced that chairman Simon Mackintosh will be succeeded by head of tax and succession Alexander Garden from 1 July. Mr Garden, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation who currently chairs its Scottish taxes technical sub-committee, joined Turcan Connell as its first trainee just weeks after the partnership opened in 1997.

The Scotsman The Herald






ICO website falls foul of GDPR

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s privacy regulator, has admitted that its own website does not conform to GDPR, saying its use of cookies, small tracking files used to record information about visits to a website, was not up to standards set by the privacy laws. Adam Rose, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, uncovered the flaw after sending in a complaint to the organisation about cookies, with the ICO telling him it is in the “process of updating” its procedures to comply. Rafi Azim-Khan, a partner at Pillsbury Law, says the matter “shows that even the regulator is not immune from the complexities of getting website notices right”.

The Daily Telegraph


Open Banking start-ups warned over data leak

Nicky Morgan, the chair of the Treasury Select Committee, has warned that a single data breach at an Open Banking start-up could “fatally” damage the developing sector. Speaking at a conference run by TheCityUK, she said: “Having rightly been told to never hand over personal banking data to third parties, consumers are extremely reluctant to hand over very sensitive personal data, such as their own spending habits, to third parties, many of which will be relatively new start-ups that don't have a track record in handling data of that kind. Let me at this point offer a warning, it may only take one data breach of financial records from an open banking start up for the entire retail Open Banking proposition to be damaged, perhaps fatally.”

City AM






UK fintech vacancies rise

According to the UK Fintech Revolution: 2019 Salary Survey from Robert Walters and Vacancy Soft, the UK fintech sector experienced a 61% rise in job vacancies in 2018. Compliance-related positions experienced the biggest surge in growth, with the number of roles up 85% year-on-year, followed by marketing jobs which climbed 63%. The report also revealed that rising demand pushed salaries as much as 25% higher in 2018.

The Scotsman


‘Grow your own’ teacher scheme bears fruit

A Scottish Borders Council “grow your own” teacher programme is expected to deliver 30 new teachers, who trained in the region, by 2021. The programme saw the council work with the University of the Highlands and Islands and Dundee University to deliver training, and the council is now considering adapting the scheme for other areas of its workforce. The programme allowed would-be teachers living in the Borders to train by distance learning, rather than leaving home to study.

BBC News





Davidson: Union is more important than Brexit

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has told party members who would put Brexit ahead of preserving the union to “take a long, hard look at themselves.” A YouGov survey of Conservative members suggested 63% would back Brexit even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK. Ms Davidson said the 2016 EU referendum result should be delivered, “but not at the expense of breaking up the UK.” Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the survey was “devastating” for Ms Davidson, saying it showed Conservative members regarded the UK as “expendable in pursuit of the Brexit chimera.”

The Scotsman The Daily Telegraph BBC News The Independent Daily Mail Daily Express


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