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Legal Matters Scotland
Wednesday, 20th October 2021

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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Defence solicitors and bar associations opt out of COP26 courts
Defence solicitors and bar associations across Scotland have declared their refusal to take part in the planned weekend custody courts to deal with an expected spike in arrests during the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. Bar associations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Hamilton, Alloa and Falkirk have voted to boycott the courts, in protest at the Scottish Government's failure to improve legal aid rates or safeguard the future of the defence bar, which they say is losing members weekly as the prosecution service recruits. Tweeting its support, the Scottish Solicitors' Bar Association said it was "fully behind" associations which had voted to boycott the extra courts "imposed on the profession without consultation".
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland  


Society criticises Nationality and Borders Bill
The Law Society of Scotland has criticised the Nationality and Borders Bill, currently in its committee stage in the House of Commons, arguing that it could create a two-tier asylum system which could result in more unsafe and perilous journeys. The bill would extend the existing criminal offence of helping an asylum seeker to the UK if it is done for gain, by removing the "for gain" element, which could open up anyone who has helped asylum seekers reach the UK to criminal charges. The Society has raised the question of how the proposals would impact on lifesaving organisations and ships' masters who save asylum seekers from drowning, as they are obliged to do under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Stuart McWilliams, convener of the Society's Immigration & Asylum Committee, commented: "No one should face a risk of committing an offence for rightly attempting to save people’s lives, and yet this would be one of the consequences of retaining the bill in its current form. This is particularly alarming given that the bill increases the already hefty maximum sentence of 14 years to life imprisonment for those found guilty. He added: "MPs must also endeavour to avoid creating a two-tier system. The proposals differentiating between types of refugee based on how they arrived in the UK have already been criticised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who has said it would undermine the 50 year-old Refugee Convention and longstanding global cooperation on refugee issues".
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland  


Buyers face having to fork out to improve energy efficiency
Home buyers face having to pay to make their properties greener under the terms of their mortgage as part of government plans to decarbonise the UK’s housing stock. Mortgage lenders will have to disclose the energy efficiency of homes they lend money for and set themselves targets to improve the insulation of buildings in their portfolio. Ministers hope the plan will encourage lenders to fund homeowners to carry out green improvements when they move into a property, with the money spent added to mortgages and repaid through cheaper bills. However, it will lead to fears that new buyers could find it hard to get a mortgage unless they commit to spending potentially thousands of pounds on home improvements. There are also concerns the plans could slow the property market. Property Mark said the requirements could initially deter people from moving homes. Mortgage lenders will need to disclose the energy efficiency of homes they lend money for, plans published on Tuesday outlined. Lenders will also have to set themselves goals to improve the insulation of homes on their books. Plans were included in the government's roadmap to slash CO2 emissions by up to 70% by 2030. The plans could initially make older properties harder to sell, according to Property Mark's policy and campaigns manager, Timothy Douglas. Home buyers may have to invest thousands of pounds in making improvements to their homes, something that could create “significant barriers,” Mr Douglas said.
The Independent   The Times  


Burness Paull boosts green credentials with Pawprint
Burness Paull has become the first law firm to sign up with eco tech firm Pawprint, saying this will help it step up its efforts to tackle climate change. Edinburgh-based Pawprint says its platform empowers employees to measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprints using the Pawprint app supported by a business insights platform. It includes employee sentiment analysis and carbon data information, “enabling the business to fully understand and support employee efforts as well as shaping the corporate sustainability strategy to align employee sentiment and business goals”. “As a firm we are committed to embedding ESG even more into our culture and DNA, and continually looking at how we can improve our environmental performance", said Burness Paull chair Peter Lawson. “Using the Pawprint app gives everyone at the firm the opportunity to get involved and make a difference, providing a way for us all to lead a more sustainable life and reduce our carbon footprint".  
Edinburgh Evening News  


Jail for taxi driver in child abuse case
A taxi driver who regularly abused a young boy he drove to school has been jailed for four years and eight months. John Walls' victim was aged 11 when the abuse started, the High Court in Glasgow heard. The 59-year-old driver worked for a firm in the Dumfries area which had a local authority school transport contract. Walls admitted what he had done during a "family summit" with relatives, the court was told. Defence advocate Lorraine Glancy said Walls had made no comment when initially questioned by police. She added: "It would appear the shame and remorse - that he continues to display - was apparent when he got home and he told his wife. "His wife then summoned other relatives for a family summit and, therein, he made full and frank admissions." Lord Clark told Walls the jail term would have been seven years but for the guilty pleas.
BBC News  

Sheriff rules on proof of course of behaviour for abuse
A sheriff has ruled that a course of alleged domestic abuse charged under s 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 does not require corroboration for each separate act libelled. Sheriff Douglas Kinloch at Livingston Sheriff Court gave the decision in repelling a submission of no case to answer on behalf of the accused at the conclusion of the Crown case. 
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland  

Woman abused girl to make money from paedophiles
A woman who sexually assaulted a two-year-old girl in a bid to make money from online paedophiles has been jailed for six years. Abigail Kikke, 27, of Alloa, distributed indecent images of her victim and also other children, the High Court in Edinburgh heard. Police were alerted to Kikke after she sent an image via a social media network. She will be placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely. Judge Lord Sandison told Kikke that she would have faced a sentence of nine years imprisonment, but for her guilty pleas in the case. Kikke had earlier admitted sexually assaulting the girl between 18 and 26 March last year at a house in Cumbernauld.
BBC News  


Face mask rules to remain in Scottish schools
Secondary school pupils must continue to wear facemasks in the classroom after the Scottish government decided against lifting the measure, to allow more time for 12-15 year olds to be vaccinated. The existing rules on face coverings for school staff will also remain. Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the decision to extend existing COVID mitigations was based on the desire for a "cautious" approach after infection trends suggested the "previous sharp decline" in case numbers was beginning to level off. The announcement was welcomed by the EIS teaching union, which said it will help to ensure schools were able to remain open while also allowing more time for "ventilation challenges" to be met in schools ahead of winter.
BBC News   The Herald   Daily Record  


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Scotland misses out on first carbon capture and storage facility
Scotland has missed out on UK government backing to develop its first carbon capture and storage facility. It had been hoped the Acorn Project at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire could be ready by the middle of the decade. The project has been designed to take and store carbon dioxide in the Goldeneye field in the North Sea. The first development will instead be on the Humber and around Liverpool. The "shovel ready" Scottish project would have captured emissions from Grangemouth and St Fergus, plus a new power station at Peterhead. A statement on behalf of the Scottish Cluster said it was disappointing news but they would continue to progress its development and planning. The news comes ahead of the the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which begins October 31st.
BBC News  


Napier University student wins Society climate change essay competition
Lewis Hay, a second year LLB student at Edinburgh Napier University, has won a competition for an essay expressing his views on the law and climate change. Lewis will receive £100 and a place at the Law Society’s COP26 conference on 29 October in Edinburgh, which he can attend in person or online. Two runners-up, Oliver Rolph and Fabrizio Palmucci, both students at the University of Dundee, will receive online access to the conference.
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland  

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