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Legal Matters Scotland
Monday, 13th September 2021

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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SPF leader: Courts ‘putting criminals above victims’ amid delays
The head of Scotland’s police union has accused politicians, officials, watchdogs and senior officers of putting criminals before victims during the pandemic. Calum Steele, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) general secretary, said police officers were “neglected and unsupported by government” during the pandemic. “The SPF is strongly of the view that the administration of justice has largely been forgotten about during this pandemic,” Steele wrote in a submission to Holyrood’s criminal justice committee. “Prisoners were released; suspects for serious offences were rarely kept in custody... Victims of crime were considered of lesser importance than the perpetrators of crime.” Scotland’s court system, Steele added, is facing a backlog of seven years. His members would have to “pick up the pieces” if prosecutors as a result decided to drop cases. The SPF general secretary warned that another possible measure to tackle the backlog — the issue of more fixed penalty notices — could “undermine confidence in the justice system”. The Scottish government responded to criticism of backlogs by saying it had released extra funding to help justice and policing to recover from the pandemic.
The Times  

What the best High St Law Firms Do: Are you an Agent of Change?
Every great business has an agent of change driving it forward, is that you?
I’m a firm believer that in business you are only one smart decision away from completely changing your working life. I also believe that you can learn from those who have driven their business forward. Emma King, Director at Clarity Simplicity, did exactly that. She’s taken on the mantle of spearheading a change in her firm. She recognised that change was required to allow her business to grow, move forward and prosper. We asked Emma about the change process.
Read More


Scots house prices continue to rise
ESPC's House Price Report for June-August 2021 reveals the average selling price of homes in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders rose 5.8% year-on-year, to £276,703. West Fife and Kinross saw the highest overall average price rise - up 8.6% year-on-year to £197,920, while Dunfermline's average price rose 15% to £203,628, up from £177,050 in 2020. Edinburgh reports a mixed bag with regional variations - the average selling price in the city centre decreased 9.4% year-on-year to £314,014, while the suburbs of north west Edinburgh saw the biggest increase with prices rising 18.7% to an average £276,315.
Edinburgh Evening News   The Herald  

Scotland the fastest-moving market for £1m-plus sales
Scotland has overtaken London as the fastest moving market for £1m-plus homes, according to research from Rightmove. The analysis shows that million-pound properties in Scotland typically find a buyer within 61 days, 25 days quicker than before the pandemic. The research, which looked at the year before the pandemic compared with the year since the property market reopened, shows that million-pound homes in London have taken an average of 67 days to find a buyer over the last year. While this is faster than 85 days seen pre-pandemic, it means the English capital has slid from being the fastest-selling region to being fifth, behind Scotland, the East of England, the South East and the East Midlands.
The Times   The Mail on Sunday   The Independent UK   The Scotsman  


Suspects are using fake Covid alerts to avoid court appearances
Fake Covid alerts are being used by some witnesses and accused to avoid court appearances, an advocate has told Holyrood's Criminal Justice Committee. Tony Lenehan of the Faculty of Advocates also said claims of Covid-19 symptoms presented an “easy way out” for people who wanted to delay or avoid trials, saying there was little authorities could do to determine if the claims were genuine. Mr Lenehan also called for the return of in-person trials at the High Court as soon as the pandemic allowed, claiming virtual hearings did not have the gravitas required.
STV   Evening Express   Evening Telegraph   The Daily Record  

Billionaire abandons opposition to Sutherland spaceport
Wildland Ltd - a company owned by billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen - has decided not to appeal a legal decision that upheld Highland Council's grant of planning permission for Space Hub Sutherland, Britain's first vertical-launch spaceport. The firm has said that while it is "deeply disappointed" by the decision, it aims to "work constructively with all stakeholders to make sure commitments made in connection with the development as consented, are kept or even exceeded". The spaceport, being developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will be used to launch up to 12 rockets a year, carrying small satellites into orbit starting in the "early 2020s".
The Sunday Telegraph  


Future Fringe report calls for new standards
The Future Fringe report - compiled by grassroots campaigners - has called for the creation of a new "set of standards" and best practice guidelines to better protect performers, crews and other workers at events are treated better, including a rethink of the financial model for Fringe artists. "We believe it is important to be transparent when making change", the draft report says, "sharing both the successes and failures in order to help others move forwards, but, venues, participants, the council, Edinburgh University, the Scottish Government and the Fringe Society need to hold each other accountable to trying, and vice versa."
Edinburgh Evening News  

Unions criticise Morrisons after cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff
Unions have accused Morrisons of taking a “dangerous and retrograde step” after it reduced sick pay for unvaccinated staff in an effort to encourage jab uptake. The cut will not apply to those who have not been given the chance to get two vaccine doses or those who have COVID-19 symptoms. Rob Miguel, national health and safety adviser at Unite, said: “Such strong-arm tactics will result in issues around equalities, human rights and ethical breaches.” Lawyers at Simmons & Simmons also said the company could also face discrimination claims over the move, in particular from those with disabilities who were medically able to get the vaccine, but had opted not to.
The Daily Telegraph  

The gender pension gap begins with the gender pay gap
Because the amount people save for a pension is usually a percentage of their salary, the 15.5% gender pay gap could immediately mean that, on average, women have less salary to put into their pension — and that’s before aspects like career breaks, caring responsibilities and part-time working are even brought into the equation.
Plus, the lower salary means that it takes women who started university after 2006/2007 an average of five years longer to pay back student debts.  This may mean that women often start saving for their pension later as their salary is going into paying off their student debts for a longer period.
Read the article in full


Vaccine passports have 'part to play' in Scotland
The First Minister has confirmed that vaccine passports "have a part to play" in Scotland's fight against COVID-19, after UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said they had been ruled out in England. Nicola Sturgeon told Sky News that as "a part of a package of measures it has a part to play", adding: "Anybody who thinks there is one single magic wand to this virus probably hasn't learned enough over the past 18 months and of course any measure we take has upsides and downsides." The passports, she said, would be a "very limited scheme", with no evidence yet on their impact on vaccination rates.
The Scotsman  


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End nears for insolvency protections
Nicola Ross of Morton Fraser looks ahead to the lifting of Government protections designed to prevent insolvencies amid the pandemic. With the support winding down at the end of the month, creditors will once again be able to seek to put companies who owe them money into liquidation. She suggests that directors should take stock of their company’s financial position and if it is in financial difficulties, “seriously consider whether it is likely things will turn around”. Ms Ross says firms owed money will be able to be much more proactive in recovering what they're owed come October “and it's important that they get on the front foot quickly”. For businesses in “uncertain waters”, she adds, “prudence and an honest review of the company’s position should be the top priority over the next month”.
The Scotsman  


Finance Secretary pledges £3bn 'just transition' investment
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has told the SNP conference that a total of more than £3bn will be invested in transitioning the Scottish economy away from fossil fuels, pledging that the oil and gas sector will not suffer the same de-industrialisation as experienced with coal and steel. She has called on the UK Government to match the Scottish Government's £500m ten-year fund for Moray and the North East. "I can confirm that we will invest at least £3bn over the life of this parliament to deliver a just transition", she said, "supporting a green revolution in transport, helping those in fuel poverty and laying the foundations for a fairer, greener Scotland."
The Courier   Herald Scotland   The Daily Record  

Venture capital 'megadeals' grow tenfold
Venture capital “megadeals” in the UK have increased tenfold over the last decade. Ten years ago there were just five deals where £50m or more was invested into UK companies. However a new report, released by Shoosmiths in partnership with data platform Beauhurst, reveals that in the first half of 2021 there were 51 megadeals. More than half were so-called “gigadeals” - equity deals of £100m or more. UK financial technology, software and life sciences businesses dominate the ranking of the company sectors by the number of megadeals. The majority of companies that have raised money by way of megadeals are located in London and the south east of England, though a “modest proliferation” of megadeals elsewhere may indicate green shoots away from the UK capital, the study noted.
The Scotsman  

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