September 2014

Standardised packaging of tobacco products: draft regulations

The IP and health and Medical Law committees responded to the UK Government consultation on the introduction of regulations to standardise the packaging of tobacco products.  In its response, the Health and medical law committee highlighted the Society’s support for any initiative which seeks to promote public health and reduce illness and disease, as well as the limited experience available from other countries and the absence of any long term studies, to ascertain whether or not plain packaging would have the desired effect. 

The IP committee highlighted the key intellectual property questions which the introduction of standardised packaging might raise, including the fact that the proposed legislation would inhibit tobacco companies from being able to distinguish their products from those of other competitors.  As this is the key function of a trade mark, the question arises as to whether standardised packaging deprives the tobacco seller's ability to use their trade marks, and therefore their main form of branding.

Full response can be found on our website

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill

The Mental health and Disability Committee responded to the Scottish Government’s call for evidence on the above Bill.  The committee highlighted the length of time it has taken to produce the Bill on the back of recommendations made in 2009 and whether or not the recommendations still reflect current needs or practice.  It had concerns around the human rights issues the Bill raises, in particular that the Bill does not provide patients detained in a low security hospital the right to appeal against conditions of excessive security, it only extends those rights already held by those in high level security hospitals to those in a medium security facility.   The committee felt that this was restrictive and discriminatory and has implications under human rights law, in particular a person’s right to liberty, a private and family life, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment and non-discrimination.  The committee also said that the extension of the short term detention period while awaiting the outcome of an application for a compulsory treatment order from 5 to 10 working days was no lobhger necessary and a further encroachment on the patient’s rights. 

Full response can be found on our website 

Consultation on wildlife Investigative Powers for SSPCA Inspectors

The Rural Affairs committee responded to the Scottish Government consultation on increasing powers for Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officers.  The Government is proposing to increase the powers of SSPCA officers to allow them adequately investigate wildlife crime rather than Police Scotland.  The Committee is of the view that the powers that are being proposed are more suitable for police officers and it would prefer for the Scottish Government to increase the resources and personnel of Police Scotland in order that they can investigate wildlife crime.  However, in the absence of increased police resources, and given the public interest in combatting wildlife crime, the Committee is satisfied that it is appropriate for SSPCA officers to be granted the proposed powers which include the ability to search vehicles suspected of carrying illegal carcasses, protected live animals and birds, and illegal traps or poisons.  The committee considers it essential appropriate training is provided and that SSPCA officers should be accompanied by a witness when exercising their powers under the new legislation.  It also believes the powers should be reviewed after a period of 2-5 years to ensure powers are not being abused. 

Full response can be found on our website 

Pension Schemes Bill

The Pensions Law Committee provided a second reading brief to Scottish MPs on the above Bill.  The Bill takes forward the UK Government’s proposals of risk sharing in private pension arrangements, by setting out a definition of shared risk and brings forward further reforms to allow savers flexibility in how they access and apply their defined benefit pension pots, as laid out by the UK Government in its most recent budget.  The Society has two main concerns with the Bill, relation to indexation requirements and the introduction of the new terms “third party promises”, and focuses its briefing on seeking clarification on these points.

The full response can be found on our website