Recent work of the Law Reform Department, including organ and tissue donation; Air Weapons and Licensing Bill; execution in counterpart; devolution

Organ and tissue donation 

The Health & Medical Law Committee responded to Ann McTaggart MSP’s proposed bill on organ and tissue donation. The proposed measures would reverse the current law where a person has to expressly opt in to the system, to one where a person would be deemed to have opted in to organ donation unless they had expressly opted out. The Society’s response centres around the need for clarity and a high profile publicity campaign, and warns of the potential for conflict between clinicians and family members, who may be opposed to organ donation or severely distressed. It agrees with the proposal that automatic opt in should take effect at 16 years of age, and that those between the ages of 12 and 16 will retain their right to authorise transplantation under the Human Tissue Act 2006. 

Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill

The Licensing Law Committee submitted written evidence at stage 1 in September. The bill is far reaching and covers a number of areas, including the licensing of alcohol, scrap metal dealers and air weapons. The committee suggests that as they stand, the latter proposals will not have the desired effect of cutting down air weapon crime, as the licence will cover the person, not the weapon, nor will it provide for the listing of each single item. The committee also comments on the missed opportunity to address some longstanding issues surrounding the transfer of premises licenses for alcohol, particularly when a tenant disappears leaving the premises closed. It welcomes the introduction of a time limit for alcohol licence applications, but states that the proposed nine months is too long. 

Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Bill

On 30 September, the Society gave oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee. The Society supports the bill, which will modernise the law relating to legal documents, speeding up transactions and allowing traditional documents to be delivered by electronic means. It will enable a more efficient process for execution where parties are based in different locations, bringing Scots law into line with many other international jurisdictions, including England and New York. The Society believes it will precipitate an increase in the use of Scots law to govern transactions.

Scottish devolution 

The Commission chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin will soon begin taking evidence on what additional powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Society’s law reform committees are currently considering what additional powers they would wish the Scottish Parliament to have, and will report to the Commission by the end of October.

Full details of the above, and further information on the current work of the Law Reform department can be found at 
The team can be contacted on any of the matters above through, or follow us on Twitter: @lawscot 
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