England & Wales news 2015

Networking opportunities, Scottish notaries

Networking group to begin offering events for Scottish Solicitors in London

Invitation to celebrate the EU's ratification of the Hague Conference Choice of Courts Convention

Practice rights of Scottish notaries public in England and Wales

Networking group to begin offering events for Scottish Solicitors in London

Solicitors based in and around London are set to have greater opportunities for networking as a popular group supported by the Society gets ready to begin operating in the capital.

Connections Networking Group is a networking organisation which brings together professional advisers and entrepreneurs for high quality lectures and social events. As a group they aim to promote and facilitate networking.

At present they regularly host events in Edinburgh and Glasgow. However, in 2016 they will begin hosting events in London.  

The diverse range of events they host provide a platform for attendees to build their professional networks and develop their networking skills whilst exploring a range of interesting topics.

Some of their past events have included sake and cocktails at a Japanese restaurant, sherry tasting at the film festival and events partnered with the Science Festival.

You can find out more about Connections and their events on their website or by info@connectionsnetworkinggroup.com.

Invitation to celebrate the EU's ratification of the Hague Conference Choice of Courts Convention

Our members based in England and Wales are invited to an event to celebrate the EU's ratification of the Hague Conference Choice of Courts Convention.

Date:               Friday 13 November 2015
Venue:            The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL
15.00 - 15.30   Registration
15.30 - 17.00   Round table discussion
17:00 - 18:00   Networking Reception
CPD:               1.5 hours
Cost:               Free of charge

Book now

The Convention entered into force for the EU on 1 October 2015. It creates an optional worldwide framework for jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

The Convention was originally drawn up by countries and trading blocks including the EU, the US, Canada, Japan, China and Russia, all of whom are members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The United States and Singapore have signed into the Convention. The EU's accession, with the exception of Denmark, adds 27 prominent European jurisdictions to the Convention. It applies between these European Union member states and Mexico.

According to the EU, the Convention has the potential to become a worldwide legal basis for the recognition and enforcement of judgments resulting from a choice of court agreement between the EU and other parties. This promotes international trade and investment by offering greater certainty for parties involved in business-to-business contracts and international litigation, adding greater certainty in recognition and enforcement of judgments in the participating states.


Marta Pertegás, the First Secretary from the Hague Conference on Private International Law
Sarah Garvey, head of litigation, PSL Counsel, Allen & Overy, London
Juan Pablo Sainz, Nader, Hayaux & Goebel

To book a place please click here.


Practice rights of Scottish notaries public in England and Wales

The Society is continuing to explore options that would recognise the practice rights of Scottish notaries public in England and Wales.

Talks between the Society and the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury – the regulator of notaries in England and Wales – have taken place but no agreement was reached over the rights of Scottish solicitors to practise as notaries south of the border.

The Faculty Office insists that Scottish notaries are prohibited from acting as notaries in England and Wales under the Legal Services Act 2007. It says all practising notaries must be authorised and enrolled by the Faculty Office.

The Society, which has taken legal advice on the issue, believes Scottish notaries are exempt under the Act because it recognises their statutory basis.

The issue was first raised two years ago by the former Council member for England and Wales, Alberto Costa. More than 200 Scottish notaries are currently practising in London alone.

Full details and background:

The issue of Scottish Notaries Public working in England and Wales and the restrictions applying to them was raised by Council member Alberto Costa in 2013. The Legal Services Act 2007 defines who can practice as a notary in England and Wales and Scottish notaries were considered to have been prohibited from acting under the Act.  At Mr Costa’s urging, the Society’s Council decided to obtain the Opinion of Counsel on the extent to which Scottish notaries can act in England and Wales.   The Opinion made a number of points:-

  1. On the basis that a person holding the office of notary public in Scotland is authorised by or by virtue of an “enactment” other than the Legal Services Act 2007 to carry on "notarial activities" (as that expression is understood in the context of the Legal Services Act 2007: paragraph 7, Schedule 2), such a person is an "exempt" person under that Act and may to that extent carry on in England and Wales, without being authorised and enrolled as a public notary by the Master of the Faculties, activities that (i) he or she is authorised to carry on by virtue of being a Scots notary public and that (ii) fall within the concept of "notarial activities" in the Legal Services Act 2007.

  2. Otherwise, in order to carry on "notarial activities" in England and Wales, such a person must become authorised as a public notary in England and Wales, in which case, in addition to "notarial activities", he or she would also be able to carry on "reserved instrument activities", "probate activities" and "the administration of oaths" within the meaning of paragraphs 5, 6 and 8 of Schedule 2 to the Legal Services Act 2007.

  3. In consequence, a person holding the office of notary public in Scotland who is not authorised by the Master of the Faculties to practise as a public notary in England and Wales but who is practising in England and Wales as an exempt person for the purposes of the Legal Services Act 2007 can legitimately do all things (including executing all documents) that English public notaries customarily did before 1 January 2010 (to the extent that those were also things - including the execution of documents -  that a Scots notary public is authorised to do) but may not carry on reserved instrument activities, probate activities or administer oaths within the meaning of paragraphs 5, 6 and 8 of Schedule 2 to the Legal Services Act 2007.

  4. It follows that the restrictions on the ability of a Scots notary public (who is not authorised by the Master of the Faculties) to execute documents arise from the exclusion of reserved instrument activities and probate activities (as defined) from "notarial activities" under the Legal Services Act 2007. Changes to notarial practice would not alter that state of affairs since the restrictions referred to above derive from the Legal Services Act 2007. However, the Lord Chancellor has power under paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to that Act to extend the exemptions in the Schedule.

The Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury (which is the regulator of notaries in England and Wales) then instructed an Opinion to respond to the Society's Counsel.  The Faculty Office do not agree with the Society's Counsel's views.   Their Counsel concludes that the proposition that the word “enactment” in a statute applying only within England and Wales includes statutes applying only within Scotland is incorrect.   His view is that had the UK Parliament wished to prejudice the Faculty Office’s jurisdiction as regulator of notaries in England and Wales, it would have expressly stated that and that the UK Parliament could not have intended to intrude into the regulation of notaries public in Scotland without specific provision.

We met with the Faculty Office to discuss the two issues arising from their Opinion:-

  • The issue of the meaning of “enactment”; and
  • The private international law implications

We made the point that on the meaning of ‘enactment’ Counsel for the Faculty Office mis-directed himself.   The Interpretation Act 1978, Section 23A applies to Acts of the Scottish Parliament in limited respects.   What, however, is of significant importance is Section 5 of the Interpretation Act which states that “in any Act, unless the contrary intention appears, words and expressions listed in Schedule 1 to this Act are to be construed according to that Schedule”.   Schedule 1 provides the definition of “enactment”.   In Schedule 1, enactment is defined as “not including an enactment comprised in or an instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament”.   By implication therefore, Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament, such as the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 are UK Parliament statutes and therefore fall within the definition of “enactment”.   The Legal Services Act 2007 Act is law in England and Wales not in Scotland and that there was no need for there to be a Sewel motion or legislative consent motion before the Scottish Parliament.  

As a matter of private international law, under Scottish private international law, the rule referring the execution of contracts simply to the lex loci actus (the law of the place of execution) has been reconsidered.   There is Scottish authority to the effect that there are cases where deeds framed according to the law of the country where they are to take effect, will be sustained irrespective of the place of signature.

Furthermore, Scottish notaries could be exempt from the 2007 Act if they perform notarial activities otherwise than for or in expectation of a fee, gain or reward.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach agreement with the Faculty Office about practice rights for Scottish Notaries Public in England.   The Faculty Office hold to the view that their interpretation of the law is correct and that Scottish notaries acting in England will do so in contravention of the Legal Services Act 2007 (which may have criminal law consequences). Accordingly the Society's existing guidance for Scottish notaries practising in England and Wales continues in effect.

The Society is examining other options to come to a resolution and will report when there are further developments.

New Council rep, survey, career event and more

New Council representative
Survey results and follow up
Career event in London
A property lawyer's view of the City of London
Smartcard rollout in England and Wales

New Council member for England and Wales

I’m delighted to have been elected as Council Member for the Law Society of Scotland for the constituency of England & Wales.  I am grateful to everyone who voted: thank you.

I appreciate that many of you don’t know me, so please read on for a brief introduction. My name is Naomi Pryde, and my role on the Council is to ensure that my constituents’ voices are heard by the Law Society of Scotland.  England & Wales is the third largest constituency, after Edinburgh and Glasgow, and I’m keen to make sure that members down south are properly represented.

I trained and practised as a qualified solicitor in Scotland for four and a half years before moving to London.  I have now been in London working at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP for over a year.  I understand that the needs and expectations of Scots qualified solicitors practising in England & Wales – and indeed elsewhere outside of Scotland - often differ from those of solicitors practicing in Scotland. I am keen to represent and support these priorities.  In particular, I am eager to better represent and support the newly qualified and more junior members of the profession, not least in their transition from working in Scotland to elsewhere. As someone who is six years qualified and recently moved from Scotland, I really do understand – and am able to respond to – these specific concerns. 

The Council meets once a month in Edinburgh, and I would be delighted for you to contact me with any concerns or issues you would like me to raise at the meetings.  I am equally always happy to meet fellow members of the Law Society of Scotland to discuss any issues.  

Chantel (Head of member engagement for England and Wales) and I are in the process of organising a networking event for members and details will be circulated shortly.  I very much hope to see many of you there. 

Naomi Pryde

Naomi Pryde

Survey results and follow up

In March of this year we carried out a survey of our members based in England and Wales to learn more about them and they types of support and sevices which might be of interest. A summary of the results is now available below.

We will soom be organising a more focussed roundtable discussion of the results with a smaller number of E&W members to learn more about what you want from your Society. To be part of that email chantelgaber@lawscot.org.uk

  • Most of you read the journal, preferably in paper form 
  • The vast majority of you have not taken part in any events via ‘update' over the past 2 years
  • Around half of you were unaware that we have services such as a Professional Practice team with lawyers that can assist you in confidence with enquiries in legal practice (for Scotland)
  • Half of you are keen for the mentoring scheme to roll out in England and Wales but the majority who answered offered themselves as mentors so we will need to look into pairings up carefully. (If anyone would be like to mentored please get in touch.)
  • The overwhelming majority of you would like more networking opportunities in England and Wales, mostly in the evening but with an equal spread over morning and lunchtime too and focused on drinks and a speaker or CPD and speaker.
  • The majority of you have heard about the Smartcard which is being rolled out to all members
  • The majority of you feel we have the level of communication just right
  • About half you are dual qualified



Career event in London

In May we partnered with Dr Suzanne Doyle Morris via her InclusIQ Institute to bring members in England and Wales a career event on unconscious bias and progression to partnership.

The event was held at the University Women's Club and we had a fantastic panel including Mary-Anne Wright from DWF and Head of the Women's Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, Lynssey McCall from MLA Global, Naomi Pryde, who is our new Council Member and turn out from members and stakeholders.

The event marks 10 years of research by the Society into equality and diversity in the legal sector. We have tracked lots of interesting changes in the profession including the increase in females and people from ethnic minorities entering the profession, which is excellent news. But we have also seen areas which have not improved in the last 10 years - these are pay, progression and partnership for women. These are issues that we, as the Law Society of Scotland, were keen to discuss at the event and are keen to keep raising – trying to get employers to improve practice, and empower all solicitors with hard evidence on issues to encourage them to talk about and champion better ways of working.


A property lawyer's view of the City of London

Reema Mannah, a Scottish solicitor and underwriter working in London with Titlesolv, takes a look at the commercial property scene in her adopted home and how the City is likely to develop in the coming years.

In spite of commuting woes and overcrowding, the City of London is the most vibrant and architecturally enriching place in the world to work. As clichéd as it sounds, The City is truly a meeting place of past glories and future aspirations and this resonates in the architecture which flanks its streets. For the property lawyer, this architectural goldmine simultaneously delivers a constant stream of work and an intellectually stimulating conveyancing regime.

The evolution of title to properties is a direct function of the history of their location and London is unparalleled in terms of its history; with that comes a plethora of unique title issues that the London based property lawyer must face; with the likes of St Pauls Cathedral, The Royal Exchange and The Guildhall dotting the City landscape , use restrictions, historic reservations and listed buildings regulations matters abound.

The modern city itself lies some 18 m above The Basilica and The Forum, once a market place for Roman invaders and not many people would be aware that the metal implants into the pavements of the City streets are markers of the official boundary of the City which gives rise to building line and other administrative planning issues. With such an abundance of historic title issues, complications are inevitable when planners, developers and investors into The City attempt to execute their own vision of a modern city, which must mandatorily evolve to attract the intellectual elite so vital for its longevity.

London is one of the trio of world financial services hubs which includes New York and Hong Kong. It is also the epicentre of the insurance world as the home of Lloyds of London and the preferred location for the headquarters of global broking powerhouses such as Aon and Willis. All global corporations covet the prestige of a London presence, hence the reason for a planned further 200 skyscrapers in the City and its peripheral districts over the next 10 years. Such a ferocious appetite for development will also lead to challenges, in particular the attempted enforcement of rights of light and in the proposed demolition and redevelopment of places of historic interest.

With arguably the largest margin for property price inflation, London is a magnet for property investors and property portfolio investments, REITS and other complex financial instruments such as property derivatives are on the increase. For the decision makers enabling an adequate supply of affordable housing stock, whilst continuing to ensure that the quality of high end housing for the multimillionaires whose presence in the City are equally as important will be a challenge; therefore, Judicial Review applications around contentious planning decisions are also likely to increase.

As time pressures and complex title issues mount in a city that is ever competing to maintain its image on the world stage, title and transactional risk management have become critical to property lawyers. Title insurance, once exclusively the panacea for title defects in U.S. jurisdictions, has now firmly taken root in the United Kingdom, as a time efficient and cost effective risk assignment mechanism.

Titlesolv is a wholly owned subsidiary of the S&P AA- rated Reinsurer Hannover Re, which specialises in the provision of niche title insurance solutions, for niche markets such as London and which works closely with property lawyers to ensure that they deliver the optimum insurance structure for specialist matters.

Titlesolv is a trading name of London & European Title Insurance Services Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and member of the Hannover re Group


Smartcard rollout in England and Wales

We’re close to finalising dates in the autumn in London for the rollout of the Law Society of Scotland Smartcard. We will be in touch with members directly to invite them to an event where they will receive their card. For members outside of London, where possible we will arrange for one-on-one opportunities for solicitors to be issued with their card.