Response to the First Minister’s Programme for Government
Responding to the First Minister’s Programme for Government, Christine McLintock, President of the Law Society of Scotland said: “This programme announced today is wide ranging and the First Minister clearly has a strong focus not just on the next parliamentary term, but the longer term future.
“With only eight months before the Scottish Parliamentary elections take place next May, it is a challenging timescale in which to deliver this broad ranging programme. We are very pleased to see the Scottish Government’s future commitment to the abolition of employment tribunal fees. This is something we have been pressing for since they were introduced, and will allow more people to raise cases regardless of their financial circumstances.
Ms McLintock said: “We look forward to seeing the detail of the Lobbying Bill. We hope that the Scottish Government will have taken into consideration the issues that we raised at consultation stage, such as the need for clear and unambiguous definitions for the term ‘lobbyist’ as well as what is meant by ‘lobbying activity’. We have concerns that only face to face meetings will be covered. We are of the view that other communication methods such as telephone calls and emails should be included in the forthcoming legislation.”
Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill
Ms McLintock said: “We welcome the inclusion of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, and the offence of sharing private and intimate images, often referred as ‘revenge porn’. In our view there is a strong argument for modelling Scottish legislation in this area on what is already in place in England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 rather than operating a significantly different legal regime north and south of the border. We also very much welcome the introduction of a specific offence of domestic abuse.”
Bankruptcy Consolidation Bill
Ms McLintock said: “The introduction of a Bankruptcy Consolidation bill is also welcomed, this will ensure Scottish bankruptcy legislation is in one place, and will make it more user friendly and intelligible for both practitioners and those affected by the law to use. Clearer and better laid-out legislation should lower the costs associated with sequestration, protect debtors better than at present, and increase returns for creditors.”
In addition to the eight new bills the Programme for Government also highlighted the continuance of a number of bills including the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, the Succession (Scotland) Bill, the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill – and the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill.
Ms McLintock said: “The continuation of the Criminal Justice Bill is welcome, and with Stage 2 now imminent, we will be following the proceedings closely. As well as scrutinising and commenting on the new bills as they are introduced, we will also be giving oral evidence to the Scottish parliament on the land reform, succession and health bills over the next few months.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
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