Each year we undertake new proactive public policy projects to address areas of the law that have failed to meet the needs of our modern society or keep up with technological developments. This year, we have committed to consider the reform of cohabitants’ rights and improvements to the treatment of vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.

Further information on each project is detailed below:

Public policy priorities for 2019

There has been a significant growth in the number of cohabitating couples and families in the UK in recent years. Within the period of 10 years to 2015, the number of cohabiting couple families in the UK grew by almost 30%.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 (the Act) contains a series of provisions concerning cohabitants – found principally in sections 25 - 29. Section 28 concerns financial provision where cohabitation ends otherwise than by death, and section 29 provides for a surviving cohabitant to make an application to a court following the death of their cohabitant, in intestate cases only.

Following a public consultation in November 2018, we have now issued our report on aspects of sections 28 and 29 of the Act. Our report details proposals to reform those aspects of the law, and we have called for a full review of the law on cohabitants in Scotland.

Influencing the law and policy

One of the main functions of our policy team, along with our network of volunteers, is to analyse and respond to proposed changes in the law.