Legal Matters Scotland
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23rd September 2022

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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Law Society steps up efforts over climate crisis
The Law Society of Scotland is ramping up its efforts to lead and support the legal sector in tackling the climate crisis by launching a new Sustainability Committee that will continue and expand on the work of the Law Society’s COP26 and Climate Change Working Group that was formed in mid-2020. "The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges we face. The Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish legal sector need to prepare to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis and play our part in progressing to net zero", said Society chief executive Diane McGiffen. "The new Sustainability Committee will help lead the legal sector and shape the Society’s work on sustainability as we try to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. It will be at the forefront of helping the legal sector in Scotland deal with the impacts of climate change while supporting the profession to take climate conscious and socially responsible action". Recruitment for a Convener and a diverse group of committee members, both solicitors and non-solicitors, who can bring a range of perspectives and insights from various sectors and disciplines is now underway.

Concerns raised over UK plans to review ‘retained’ EU law
The Scottish government has warned that Liz Truss's plans to urgently "revoke or reform" all EU law that still affects the UK after Brexit are risking a potential bonfire of workers' rights.

Edinburgh council faces challenge to planned Airbnb regulations
Councillors in Edinburgh face a legal challenge if they push ahead with plans to regulate Airbnb properties as business fights “rushed” legislation. Under new rules, anyone who seeks to change the use of an entire dwelling that is not their principal home into a short-term let will require planning permission. However, tourism leaders say they will damage businesses still recovering from the impact of the pandemic. Fiona Campbell of the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, representing 1,470 members, said the rules could potentially wipe out more than 90% of self catering accommodation in the city, worth about £71m to the local economy. “They are consulting on whether there will be a presumption not to grant a licence to any flatted dwelling”, Ms Campbell added. “It is not part of licensing because it’s got nothing to do with the safety of the activity and is not a planning consideration. If they don’t pull that as a condition we will seek leave to challenge".
Renee MacRae: Trial told of 'man with wide, staring eyes'
A man with "wide and staring eyes" pushing a pushchair was seen on the night a mother and son disappeared 46 years ago, a court has heard. William MacDowell denies murdering Renee MacRae, 36, and their three-year-old son Andrew MacRae in the Highlands. His trial has heard a statement given by Jean Wallace, now deceased, who was a passenger in a car as it travelled up the A9 south of Inverness. She said the sight of the man by the road had frightened her. Mr MacDowell, 80, of Penrith, Cumbria, has been accused of murdering Mrs MacRae and their son at a lay-by on the A9 at Dalmagarry, south of Inverness, or elsewhere on November 12th 1976. Mr MacDowell denies the charges against him, including one alleging he disposed of Renee and Andrew MacRae's bodies, personal effects and a pushchair and of setting fire to a BMW car. The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.
Top law officer apologises for handling of 1997 Wick death
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain has apologised for how the authorities handled a man's death in the Highlands 25 years ago. Kevin Mcleod's body was discovered in Wick harbour on 9 February 1997. His family have long campaigned to have his death investigated as murder because of injuries found on his body. A review has concluded his death was not suspicious, but Ms Bain said the family was let down during early investigations. Police Scotland has previously apologised for how the case was dealt with in the past. Ms Bain and Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bex Smith explained the findings of the more than 300-page report in a meeting with Mr Mcleod's father, Hugh, and uncle, Allan Mcleod, in Wick on Wednesday. Allan Mcleod said the family was thankful for the meeting and that the Lord Advocate and Ms Smith had listened to their concerns.
Gillespie Macandrew appoints five newly qualified solicitors
Gillespie Macandrew has announced the appointment of five newly qualified (NQ) solicitors following their completion of its two-year legal traineeship programme. Anais Banag, Hannah Gaddie, Laura Kirkman, Scott Mackie and Nadia White joined the firm as trainees in 2020 and qualified earlier this month. They will be joining the firm's Commercial Property, Corporate, Employment, Planning and Residential Property teams. “We are pleased to welcome these talented new lawyers to our firm – they have all demonstrated commitment and resilience throughout their traineeship, which included periods of enforced homeworking and they have adapted well to these circumstances", said chief executive Robert Graham-Campbell. "A number of our former trainees are now partners at the firm, reflecting our longstanding commitment to developing and investing in our people to support the firm’s growth strategy".

STEP UK Tax, Trust and Estates Conference 2022

We are back in person!  We are pleased to announce that this popular conference is taking place this autumn at three venues across the UK to provide your essential tax, trusts and estates update. 7 leading industry experts will cover seven crucial topics to keep you up-to- date with current and future developments such as domicile & residence 101, general tax update, IHT and much more…
This conference is always incredibly popular and places are limited this year, so be sure to register early to avoid disappointment. View the full programme to see why this conference is a must-attend event.

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COVID-19 continues to drive fall in life expectancy in Scotland
Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for another year, National Records of Scotland has reported, with COVID deaths pushing the figure down. The average life expectancy at birth for men was 76.6 years and 80.8 years for women. This was a decrease on last year's figures which had been the sharpest drop since 1980-1982. In Scotland, the fall in life expectancy for men and women was about 11 weeks and eight weeks respectively compared to last year's report. In the most deprived areas of Scotland, average life expectancy for men was 13.7 years lower than in the least deprived areas. For women, the difference was 10.5 years. Life expectancy was highest in the Orkney Islands and lowest in Glasgow City for both men and women in 2019-2021. The report said most of Scotland's councils had seen life expectancy fall over the last few years, while life expectancy was higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Separately, NRS population statistics suggested there were 1,040 people alive over the age of 100 in Scotland - the first time the figure has reached more than 1,000.
Oil and gas climate test 'a sham', say environmentalists
A slimmed-down climate compatibility checkpoint for new oil and gas development has been branded a sham by environmentalists. The UK government has published details of the test which allows the go-ahead for a new round of exploration licensing in the North Sea. It will compare greenhouse gas emissions in the UK sector with others. The industry is understood to be pleased with the test but Greenpeace said it was considering legal action. The test has no predetermined threshold for whether an application passes or fails. The checkpoint was announced in March last year following a review into whether continuing to licence for oil and gas exploration was compatible with the UK's climate objectives. Greenpeace said it was a sham climate checkpoint voted on by oil and gas companies, while Freya Aitchison, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "The UK government's supposed checkpoint is a worthless charade as there can be no climate compatible new oil and gas. It is a deeply cynical attempt to provide cover for reckless plans to expand the very industry that is fuelling both the climate and the cost-of-living crises".
Johnny Depp dating his lawyer
Johnny Depp is romantically involved with a lawyer who represented him in his UK libel lawsuit, it has been reported. Joelle Rich, 38, was in court for the actor's battle against a newspaper that began in 2020. But a New York celebrity magazine alleges that since they stopped working together on the case their relationship has turned to romance and they have become an item in recent months. One source has said: "Their chemistry is off the charts. It's serious between them. They are the real deal." US Weekly broke the story but respected website TMZ has also now reported the romance.

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