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Legal Matters Scotland
Thursday, 10th June 2021

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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SNP pushes for extension of emergency Covid laws
Emergency powers for tackling the Covid pandemic could be extended to the autumn of next year under plans drawn up by the Scottish government. The temporary powers were originally introduced in the spring of last year, but are due to expire in September. The government is to introduce a new bill which would effectively extend this deadline until next March. It would also give parliament the option of agreeing to a further extension until 30 September 2022. Coronavirus Recovery Secretary John Swinney said the extension of the powers was needed because of the ongoing health threat posed by Covid. He also said any emergency provisions which were no longer required would be allowed to expire, and stressed that all of the powers that remain will have been previously approved by parliament. But the Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats expressed concern about the timetable for the new bill, and said parliament should be given adequate time to scrutinise the proposals after the summer break instead of rushing it through.
STV News   BBC News   The Daily Telegraph   The Courier   The Times   Daily Mail (Scot)   Herald Scotland   The Daily Record  

Tories pledge to introduce Victims' Law
The Scottish Tories claim that victims are being denied a voice on parole despite SNP promises to give them a greater say. New research suggests only 7% attend parole hearings to speak about the release of prisoners. Only 121 of 1,669 victims were allowed to make an 'in-person representation', analysis by the Scottish Conservatives shows. It comes after former justice secretary Humza Yousaf claimed in January that victims' needs "must be at the centre of the justice system". The Scottish Tories plan to introduce a Victims' Law to the Scottish Parliament to "guarantee that victims' rights and views are heard", the party's justice spokesman Jamie Greene said.
Daily Mail  

Kirkcaldy MP calls for tougher laws on illegal puppy farming
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey, is leading cross-party calls for tougher animal welfare legislation to tackle the “heart breaking” rise in illicit puppy farmers and importers. The moves comes after the Scottish SPCA raised serious concerns earlier this year about “low-welfare breeders” in the Kingdom, highlighting that as much as a third of calls they receive about the welfare of new puppies relate to the Fife area. Mr Hanvey has lodged an Early Day Motion at Westminster in support of the Justice for Reggie Campaign and has received support from across the House, including from colleagues in the SNP and Labour. The motion calls for “stringent laws” to crack down on puppy farming and the “online sales of puppies by unscrupulous breeders”. “In the last year, 10 puppies died and 35 were very poorly after being bought from breeders in Fife and across Scotland", Mr Hanvey said. "Most of these animals were bought on Gumtree, which is why I want to see regulation cover the sale of animals on these online marketplaces".
Fife Today  


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Government acted unlawfully over firm's COVID contract
The government acted unlawfully when it awarded a £560,000 contract to a firm run by former colleagues of Michael Gove and the PM's adviser Dominic Cummings, the High Court has ruled. Ministers have denied any favouritism was shown towards the communications agency Public First. But the judge decided a failure to consider other firms meant there was "real danger" of bias. The High Court rejected two other claims made against the government by the Good Law Project. The first was that the "direct" award of the contract to Public First was "unnecessary" because there were other firms who could potentially have done the work. The second was that giving it a six-month contract was "disproportionate" for the government's "immediate" needs.
Sky News   BBC News   Financial Times   Border Telegraph   City A.M.   Daily Mail   Daily Star   Evening Express   Evening Telegraph   Helensburgh Advertiser   Herald Scotland   I   London Evening Standard   Metro   Mirror.co.uk   The Daily Record   The Daily Telegraph   The Guardian   The Independent UK   The Press and Journal   The Scotsman   The Sun   The Times  

Prison for student who abducted and assaulted woman in Aberdeen
An engineering student who raped a woman after grabbing her off the street and dragging her into a block of flats in Aberdeen has been jailed for eight years at the High Court in Edinburgh. Callum Duncan, 23, pulled the woman by her hair to a communal landing before carrying out the attack in 2019. Following the rape, Duncan carried out another sex attack on the woman before she managed to grab her belongings and run downstairs. She later arrived at her friend's flat in a distressed state and police were alerted. Det Insp Lesley Clark, of Police Scotland, said: "Callum Duncan subjected a young woman to a violent, unprovoked and terrifying ordeal. It is due to her bravery throughout the police investigation and subsequent legal proceedings that he will now face the consequences of his appalling actions".
STV News   BBC News   Daily Record  

Argyll fatal crash driver jailed for three years
A man who caused the death of a woman after driving dangerously on an Argyll road has been jailed for three years. Samuel Lloyd crossed into the opposing carriageway before his vehicle collided with Julie Goodman's car. Lady Scott told Mr Lloyd at the High Court in Edinburgh: "This was a road that you knew well." The judge added to cross the central line when it appeared he did not know what was coming presented "an obvious risk of danger". Lloyd's trial heard he failed to maintain proper observations and crossed into the opposing carriageway when it was not safe to do so.
BBC News  


Addressing land questions in Scotland
Rob Gibson, a member of the Social Justice and Fairness Commission and author of recently published book, Reclaiming Our Land, writes in the Scotsman on tax and land issues in the country. He states that "housing all Scots under devolution falls well short of needs. Despite increased affordable house building in recent years, more certainty to meet our needs can come with the powers of independence." The article continues: "City dwellers, rural villagers or islanders are adamant they need land at affordable prices before enough houses can be built. Visionary land reform manifestos may pile up, but few, if any, explain a legal route to buy land for community uses at existing use value."
The Scotsman  

Scots house price growth expected to continue
In a revised housing market forecasts, Rettie & Co is now estimating an 8% average house price growth for Scotland in 2021. The agency's summer report looks ahead to predicted trends and reviews the performance of the Scottish housing market over the last 12 months; this year is expected to be one of strong price growth before the market rebalances and cools in 2022. Meanwhile the five-year forecast for Scotland at 23%-plus is a marked increase on previous estimates. Supply is lagging demand, and the imbalance is a major driver of the growth in prices.
The Scotsman  


Ledingham Chalmers announces Inverness partner hire
Inverness private client lawyer JP Campbell is to join Ledingham Chalmers later this year as part of its growth plans. A partner at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie for the past two years, Mr Campbell specialises in business succession, estate planning, executry administration, asset protection, trusts and supporting adults with incapacity. At Ledingham Chalmers he will be tasked with expanding the firm's private client offering in the north of Scotland. The company is currently seeking to recruit in its Aberdeen and Inverness offices, and also plans to take on five trainees this year and four in 2022.
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland  


Full picture on gender pay gap in Autumn
Analysis by PwC shows that gender pay gaps within UK businesses are continuing to shrink, from an average gap of 14.3% in 2018 to 12.5% in the year to the end of April. Average gender bonus gaps have also narrowed, to 33.6% from 37.6% since 2017. However, more than three quarters of firms delayed reporting their latest data after the Government's Equalities Office granted businesses a six-month extension earlier this year.
The Daily Telegraph  


HMRC set to recover £1bn of fraudulent furlough cash
HMRC has indicated that in excess of £1bn of fraudulent or mistakenly claimed furlough cash is set to be recovered over the next two years. More than £60bn has been claimed by employers since the introduction of the scheme in March last year. Janet Alexander, an official at the tax office, said authorities will launch a small number of criminal investigations relating to serious fraud. It comes after HMRC chief Jim Harra said in September that the amount of fraudulent or mistaken furlough claims could amount to as high as £3.5bn.

City A.M.  


Carriers probed over Covid refunds
The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating British Airways and Ryanair, warning that the airlines should have issued refunds for trips cancelled when planes were grounded due to coronavirus measures. The watchdog stated: “The CMA is concerned that, by failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket."
Financial Times   The Times  

UK competition regulator plans probe into Amazon’s use of data
The Competition and Markets Authority is planning a formal competition investigation into Amazon focusing on how the online retailer uses the data it collects on its platform.
Financial Times  

UK post-Brexit green watchdog will be weaker than EU predecessor, warns law body
The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law has said the UK’s new Office for Environmental Protection will be weaker and less effective than its EU predecessor.
Financial Times  


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New £200m programme to boost green investment
The Scottish Government has announced a new Green Growth Accelerator programme – intended to unlock £200m of public sector investment to speed up the development of low-carbon infrastructure projects to help Scotland achieve its net-zero target. The programme, developed in collaboration with COSLA, will provide extra resources and technical support to local authorities.
STV News   Evening Express  

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