There is pretty much a constant flow of Government and other proposals (Scottish Law Commission, for example) for reforming legislation coming out for public consultation, on top of which the Scottish Parliament's procedures include a call for evidence on each new bill ahead of MSPs taking a close look at it themselves. Busy practitioners can therefore be forgiven for not looking too closely at most of them.
At the moment, however, there is legislation, actual or proposed, in the pipeline that could, all told, significantly affect a large proportion of the profession and its clients, and which it would be wise to keep up to speed with.
Already before Holyrood is the Land Reform Bill; the call for evidence has been issued with an early deadline of 14 August. While ministers have still to clarify the content of the objectives for land reform that the new Scottish Land Commission will have to promote, it would be a mistake to regard the bill as applying only to rural land: the community right to buy in furtherance of “sustainable development” (definition required) could extend to any property not specifically excluded. The bill also makes extensive reforms to agricultural holdings: our briefing section has more.
Succession is the other big one in the pipeline, in two parts. Technical reforms such as rectification of wills and representation of beneficiaries are at a similar parliamentary stage; but ministers are also – finally – consulting on the Law Commission's 2009 proposals that would change the intestacy rules, radically alter legal rights, and improve provision for cohabitants, to name but three. Is it better to provide legal rights in a smaller share of the whole estate, heritable and moveable? What if certain assets are difficult to split up? Should adult children be protected at all? Most clients will have an interest in these issues.
Not to be overlooked either is the consultation on claims for historic child abuse: the three year limitation period will be abolished (for such claims only, and only for institutional care), removing the need to persuade the court to allow a late action; but pre-September 1964 claims extinguished by prescription will not be revived, as the issues are simply too complex.
Consultations or no, I hope you manage a good summer break.