April 2016

The Society’s committees have been working on a number of Scottish Parliament and UK Parliament Bills and consultations including the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill, Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill and Mandatory Pay Gap Reporting.

Key areas are highlighted below. For more information see the law reform section of the website.

Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill

In our briefing paper ahead of the stage 3 debate on the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, our Criminal Law committee welcomed measures which help to improve how the justice system responds to abusive behaviour, including domestic abuse, but expressed concerns about the fragmented approach and lack of clarity surrounding the law in this area.

There have been a number of recent changes to criminal law, including the offence of threatening or abusive behaviour in terms of s38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and the offence of stalking in s39 of the same Act, and while the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill contains a “Domestic abuse aggravator”, the Scottish Government is currently consulting on a distinct offence of domestic abuse.

The committee also highlighted that the proposals for mandatory jury directions relating to sexual offences represent a major departure from existing practice, where the distinct roles of a judge and a jury are clear.

Our stage 3 briefing paper is available to read in full on the website.