Recent work of the Society's Law Reform Department, including Scottish referendum consultations; children's hearings; mental health and disability; employment

Scotland’s Constitutional Future

The Society’s Constitutional Law Committee has prepared a response to the UK Government’s consultation on Scotland’s constitutional future. While the Society is a non-partisan organisation, it has been actively involved and provided extensive comments on Scottish devolution since the Parliament’s inception in 1999. In its response, the Society has stated that it is of the view that making a s 30 order under the Scotland Act 1998 should remove any doubt as to the legislative competence of the Scottish Government to bring a referendum.

The committee will also be preparing a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation Your Scotland, Your Referendum, in due course.

Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act

The Family Law Subcommittee has been looking at the raft of draft secondary legislation that is currently being consulted on further to the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. A number of the committee’s practitioner members have considerable experience of the hearings system and the convener, Morag Driscoll, is the Director of the Scottish Child Law Centre and a former children’s reporter. The committee is therefore ideally placed to look at the proposals from all perspectives and make recommendations in the interests of those involved with the system, most importantly the child. It is also vital to ensure that the system interacts effectively with the court system.

Mental health and disability

The Mental Health and Disability Subcommittee has been carefully considering the recommendations made recently by the Mental Welfare Commission in its report “Powers of attorney and their safeguards”, which related to the case of Mr and Mrs D. In addition to those recommendations, the subcommittee has been for some time looking at other issues relating to powers of attorney and certificates of other appointments issued by the Office of the Public Guardian, and the problems encountered when these are presented to financial institutions such as banks. The subcommittee has recently met with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to discuss this, as there are concerns that these problems raise discrimination issues, and with the Committee for Scottish Clearing Banks to discuss the approach banks are taking.

Employment Law Subcommittee

The Employment Law Subcommittee has been busy in recent months responding to a number of calls for evidence and consultations, including “Effectiveness of Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006” and “Charging Fees in Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal”. In terms of the latter, the committee believes that both options currently proposed are not ideal solutions and has offered advice and alternatives. The committee is also aware of the wider implications which the introduction of fees could bring, and has been considering contributions from the Equalities Law Subcommittee and Access to Justice team on this issue. Further work is likely following the publication of the Underhill review of employment tribunals, expected in April, and later in the year with the mooted proposals to reform employment law in connection with “no fault dismissals” and “protected conversations”.

Further information on the current work of the Law Reform Department can be found at
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