Law Society comment on First Minister's legislative programe
Commenting on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s new programme of work for the Scottish Government, Alistair Morris, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
“The programme announced today is broad-ranging and we can clearly see the intention of the First Minister to stimulate the economy and boost business activity through initiatives such as help to buy and the creation of a Scottish Business Development Bank. We hope that a new drive to develop the economy will also bring progress on alternative business structures for law firms in Scotland, which we believe will create opportunity for solicitors to improve their client services and encourage further growth within the legal sector, which contributes around £1 billion to the Scottish economy as a whole.
“In terms of the proposed legislative programme for Parliament we will be interested in contributing to the new Education Bill. Widening access to education is a key area of work to the Law Society through its fair access to the profession programme to ensure that we can continue to attract talented people to the legal profession. It is vital for Scotland as a whole that people across society can access education and make the most of the opportunities it offers as well as fulfil their personal ambitions.
“We’re very pleased to see the Succession Bill in today’s legislative programme. This area of law is in need of modernisation and we would welcome reform.
“We also welcome the new Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill. There have been very few prosecutions for human trafficking in Scotland to date and we would welcome measures that deterred this and offered greater protection and support for victims.
“The continuation of the Criminal Justice Bill will see major reform of our criminal justice system.There are many positive aspects to the bill, particularly in relation to young or vulnerable suspects, however, given the huge concern about proposals to abolish the requirement for corroboration in criminal trials, we were pleased that the bill was halted until after Lord Bonomy could carry out a review. It is essential that we have a criminal justice system which is properly balanced and gives due weight to the interests of those facing criminal charges, to the victims of crime and wider society and we look forward to working with the government as the bill progresses.
“In addition to today’s statement from the new First Minister, the Scotland Bill will clearly be a key part of the legislative programme for 2015 for both the Scottish and UK Governments.
“Further devolution to Scotland will raise complex political and legal issues which will require much thought and wide consultation to make it work. These include the relationship between the UK and Scottish parliaments and the need for proper pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation in the Scottish Parliament in the event of new powers being devolved.”
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