Legal Matters Scotland
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23rd June 2022

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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UK Parliament must be able to decide human rights laws
The Government’s plans to scrap the Human Rights Act have been criticised by lawyers who claim they are an attack on the rule of law that risks undermining Britain’s international reputation. Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said the plans risk ruining Britain’s reputation “with trade partners, business, and in the international arena,” as she warned the move signals a “deepening of the Government’s disregard for the checks and balances that underpin the rule of law”. The Law Society president said the plan could call “into question Britain’s honour and trustworthiness as an international partner,” as she said the proposals will “make the state less accountable”.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry: Colleagues said Bayoh PC 'unlucky'
Police officers agreed one of their colleagues was "unlucky" because he had used potentially lethal force against Sheku Bayoh before he died. The inquiry into Mr Bayoh's death heard that the conversation was recorded on CCTV at Kirkcaldy police station. One of the constables involved also told the inquiry he had heard that Mr Bayoh had been hit by "every officer" involved in the incident. Mr Bayoh had been spotted in Kirkcaldy with a knife on May 3 2015. The 31-year-old did not have the weapon when police confronted him on the town's Hayfield Road. A knife was later found lying on a grass verge.

House price growth soars as buyers race to lock in cheap deals
The average UK house price surged by 12.4% in April, up from 9.7% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics. Average values jumped to £281,000 in April, £31,000 higher than this time last year. In Wales and Scotland, house price growth hit 16.2%. In England, the rate was 11.9%, while Northern Ireland recorded 10.4% growth. The South West had the fastest price rises of any region in England, with growth at 14.1%, while London recorded the slowest pace of growth at 7.4%. However, due to a lag in ONS, data the figures do not reflect the current state of the cooling market. Andrew Montlake, of mortgage broker Coreco, said: “This data is not a true reflection of where the market is at right now. The era of ultra-cheap money is finished and that will soon start to feed through into house price growth.” In the six months to May, the average rate on a two-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 25% deposit has surged from 1.57% to 2.63%. Pantheon Macroeconomics forecast this will hit 3.7% by the end of this year. It expects house price growth to fall to 5% over the same period.
Burness Paull makes new partner hire
Burness Paull has bolstered its Banking & Finance team with a lateral partner hire. Alan Cassels, who joins from Pinsent Masons, is a leading banking partner with extensive cross-border banking expertise, having developed significant experience in corporate, leveraged and real estate finance, and advised on debt and mortgage book sale transactions. He becomes the fourth specialist banking partner in the team, alongside Jonathan Heaney, John Kennedy and Dawn Reoch.
UK set to admit lone Ukrainian teenagers after rule change
Teenagers who fled the war in Ukraine will be allowed to come to the UK alone under new rules, the BBC understands. About 1,000 unaccompanied minors had previously been left in limbo because the Homes for Ukraine scheme required young people to travel with a guardian. The rule change is due to benefit only those unaccompanied minors who are already in the system. Because of safeguarding concerns, their sponsors in the UK will need to either be a relative or known to their parents, such as a close family friend.

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Covid cases increase by more than 30% in Scotland
The number of Covid cases in Scotland has increased by more than 30% in the last week, according to new figures. The latest Public Health Scotland data reveals there were 15,541 reported virus cases in the week ending 19 June. It also found the number of new Covid hospital admissions increased by 15.2% to 696 in the week ending 14 June.
Police Scotland urged to improve equality and diversity training
Police Scotland must significantly improve training around equality and diversity, a review has said. The review was ordered after ex-firearms officer Rhona Malone - who had raised concerns about sexism - was paid almost £1m after an employment tribunal found she had been victimised. The review was carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The PSNI concluded that training should be focused on areas of policing where there is a "boys' club" culture. Police Scotland said progress on the recommendations would be reported to the Scottish Police Authority.
Dundee launches revised drug strategy
Dundee City Council has launched its revised drug and alcohol recovery plan, following a recent update from the Dundee Drug Commission. The council is now developing a revised Strategic Framework and Delivery Plan for Drug and Alcohol Recovery that recognises poverty and deprivation, and the range of trauma and adversities linked to drug and alcohol-related harm. Council leader Cllr John Alexander, chair of the Dungee Partnership, said: "I am keen that efforts to make Dundee a City of Recovery involve as many groups, organisations and people as possible. We are heartened by the fall in drug deaths reflected in statistics, but we are not complacent."
Energy bills grant could be clawed back from second home owners
Public finance minister Tom Arthur has told MSPs that the Scottish Government is to work with COSLA to determine whether it will be possible to claw back the UK Government's £400 energy bills support grant from second homes in Scotland. "In this cost-of-living crisis", he said, "it is vital resources are directed at those who need it most, so it is clearly wrong that second home owners or those who own long term empty homes benefit from a second £400 energy rebate." He added: "We will also work with them to examine how to use the funds raised to support local cost-of-living responses on a fair and equitable basis across Scotland."
Ukraine Briton told execution will go ahead
A British man sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court for fighting in Ukraine has been told the execution will be carried out, his family say. Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were sentenced by a court which is not internationally recognised, in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Mr Aslin told his family his captors said there had been no attempt by UK officials to negotiate on his behalf. The foreign secretary discussed his case with Ukraine earlier in June. Liz Truss said she and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba had spoken about "efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by Russian proxies" and has called the death sentences a "sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy".

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