Recent work of the Law Reform department, including Abusive Behaviour etc Bill; parking offences; Apologies (Scotland) Bill; alcohol controls; IP rights: unjustified threats

Abusive behaviour etc

The Criminal Law Committee submitted written evidence on the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill in November.

The committee highlighted that while supporting the policy objectives of the bill, it had reservations as to whether the bill as drafted would help improve the response to abusive behaviour.

It also raised concerns around proving aggravation of an offence, as set out at s 1, and questioned why existing measures were not adequate and whether the increased use of statutory aggravations was improving the criminal justice system.

On the “revenge pornography” provisions, as set out at s 2, the committee is of the view that there is a strong argument for modelling the offence on the English legislation, rather than operating different regimes north and south of the border.

Grazia Robertson, who gave oral evidence to the Justice Committee, comments on the bill at p26 of this issue.

Parking offences

The Criminal Law Committee submitted evidence on the Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill. The bill creates the offences of parking on footways (s 2), parking at dropped footways etc (s 3) and double parking (s 4) without the need to establish that there is in fact an obstruction. While noting that other organisations may be better placed to respond to the bill, and the exceptions to these offences, the committee raised issues such as the consideration of a statutory defence on the basis that the parking was, in all the circumstances, reasonable.

The committee also suggested a further exception, where it is necessary to park on the footpath to avoid obstruction to other vehicles in circumstances where there is a very narrow lane, part of which has a footpath. It highlighted the potential resource issues for the police and local authorities in enforcing the provisions.

Apologies (Scotland) Bill

The Society proposed two amendments to be tabled at stage 2 of the bill. The amendments supported the main concerns highlighted in previous briefings, specifically to exempt the use of an apology in any medical negligence related proceedings, and to exempt an apology given in accordance with the duty of candour as set out in the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc and Care) (Scotland) Bill.

Alcohol controls

Archie Maciver, convener of the Society’s Licensing Law Committee, gave evidence to the Health & Sport Committee on the Alcohol (Licensing, Public Health and Criminal Justice) (Scotland) Bill. While supporting the general principles of the bill and any measures aimed at improving Scotland’s relationship with alcohol, he stated that one of the main provisions, a bottle marking scheme, could only prove where alcohol was bought, not necessarily how it got into the hands of an underage drinker.

IP rights: unjustified threats

The Intellectual Property Committee responded to the Intellectual Property Office’s consultation on proposed reform. The committee welcomes and is supportive of the proposed bill, and agrees that legislation in this area requires to be modernised to reflect current needs.

The committee has not identified any specific areas which would render the proposals “contentious” from a Scottish perspective, and agrees that the bill is suitable for the parliamentary procedure designed for uncontroversial Law Commission bills.

The Society also responded to the consultations Recruitment sector: changes to the regulatory framework including stopping EEA-only recruitment, and The Pensions Regulator: Consultation on Banning member-borne commission in Occupational pension schemes. Both responses are available on the Society’s website.

Further information on all of the above, or any law reform work, is available from, or
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