Committee Updates November 2015
Apologies (Scotland) Bill – Stage 1 Brief
We submitted a stage 1 brief to MSPs on the Apologies (Scotland) Bill. We are supportive of the policy intent of the Bill, which is to promote the use of apologies and remove the perceived fear and risk that an apology will be used to ground a civil action, or as evidence to demonstrate liability. The bill does not place a statutory obligation on any person or organisation to provide an apology. In our briefing, we highlighted to MSPs that the definition of ‘apology’ as set out in this bill, differs greatly from the definition of an apology as set out under the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently at stage 1 before the Health and Sport Committee.
The Health Bill seeks to impose a duty of candour, and any apology given under a duty of candour will also be an apology under the Apologies (Scotland) Bill.
As the definitions significantly differ, the law of unintended consequences may apply; the joint interpretation of both definitions may lead to an unforeseen or unanticipated consequence. If such were to occur, then the policy intent behind one, or both of these bills would fail and therefore we believe that the definition should be amended to reflect something similar to that as set out in section 23 of the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill or alternatively apologies given in accordance with the duty of candour are expressly excluded from the provision of the Apologies (Scotland) Bill.