Committee Updates June 2015

Assisted suicide

The Health and Medical Law sub-committee has submitted a briefing for MSPs in advance of the Stage 1 debate on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill reiterating its concerns that a lack of clarity on definitions contained in the bill and ambiguity of the proposed legislation may give rise to difficulties in enforceability.  The committee also reasserted the Society’s opposition to a blanket provision enabling solicitors to act as proxies to sign a request for assisted suicide where the person making the request is blind, unable to read or unable to sign themselves.  Being a solicitor does not, of itself, qualify an individual to assess a person’s mental capacity in the consideration of ending his or her own life.

Read our latest submission.

Smoking in cars

The Health and Medical Law sub-committee has also submitted Stage 1 written evidence on the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill.  The committee supports the policy intention behind the bill but has pointed out the practical difficulties of enforcing the legislation, which would make it an offence to smoke in a vehicle in which there is a child and which is in a public place. It also highlighted the lack of complementary proposals focusing on education and prevention of smoking, as it is generally acknowledged that a combined approach is more effective in changing patterns of smoking behaviour and promoting tobacco control.

Read our written evidence.

Fatal Accident Inquiries

The Civil Justice committee responded to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee’s call for evidence on the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Etc (Scotland) Bill.  The committee welcomed the policy objective of the bill to reform and modernise the law governing the holding of Fatal Accident Inquires (FAIs) in Scotland but was disappointed that the bill did not take the opportunity to implement the recommendation made by Lord Cullen in his 2009 review of the existing legislation; namely, that relatives of the deceased should not have to justify the reasonableness of the granting of legal aid for their representation at the FAI.

Read the committee's response.

OSCR Charity Test Guidance

The Charity Law committee has responded to a Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) consultation on its new draft version of the charity test guidance, which is designed to help both prospective and existing charities and their advisers to understand the requirements of the charity test and how to pass it.  Overall the committee thought that the draft guidance was a clear improvement on the existing version and that the use of illustrative case studies was helpful, although it did raise some queries about the detail of some of the examples, as they did not think that they were clear in their intent.  The committee also met with senior representatives from OSCR earlier in the month to discuss the implications of the Smith Commission’s devolution recommendations on charities.

The the Charity Law committee's response.

Queen’s Speech 2015

The new UK government has set out its legislative agenda for the parliamentary session ahead.  Among the various measures are the Scotland Bill, based on the cross-party Smith Commission agreement on Scottish devolution; the EU Referendum Bill, which will put effect to the government’s pledge to re-evaluate the UK’s membership of the EU; and an Immigration Bill, which will include a series of measures to control immigration and do more to target illegal migration. The law reform team will provide a fuller analysis of these and other relevant legislative measures as set out in the Queen’s Speech, as our committees have the opportunity to consider them in detail.

Read the Society's initial reaction to the Queen's speech.

The law reform team can be contacted on any of the matters above through or follow us on Twitter @lawscot.