The Law Society of Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s legislative programme announced by the First Minister today, 4 September 2018.

Alison Atack, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Family, children’s rights and health, including mental health and capacity, feature prominently, in the new legislative programme, alongside growing Scotland’s economy.

“A substantial amount of legislative time will understandably be taken up with the negotiations around Brexit and the EU Withdrawal Bill, however today’s programme sets out a number of priorities regarding Scotland’s health and wealth, taking changes in our society and the shape of modern families into account.

“A new Family Law Bill will aim to put the child’s best interests at the very centre of contact and residence cases and we welcome, in particular, the Government’s commitment to incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that Scottish law and policy champions children’s rights and, where beneficial, exceeds the principles of the Convention.

“There will also be consultations on the future of civil partnerships in Scotland and the reformation of succession law. There are proposals to modernise areas of our civil law, including updating defamation law, making it fit for 21st century purposes.

“We are pleased with plans to introduce a new Consumer Protection Bill and the creation of a new, independent consumer body. In recent years there has been a gap created by the absence of a single consumer body with the right expertise, knowledge and capability to engage and consult with when we are considering regulatory and other reforms to legal services.  

“We think a body like Consumer Scotland, if set up and funded properly, could provide real value and become a powerful voice for consumers. We will specifically highlight the need for research on the consumer impact of the unregulated legal services market, a subject being considered by the current review of legal services regulation.”

 “Once introduced, we will play our part in scrutinising each of the new Bill proposals and will engage with the government, opposition parties and other key groups to ensure that the resulting legislation is practical and effective.”