Legal Matters Scotland
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25th January 2023

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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Long-term change to save legal aid must be fast-tracked
The Law Society of Scotland has described the Scottish Government’s confirmation of an additional £11m for legal aid as ‘a step in the right direction’ but called for urgent progress on a formal review mechanism to ensure the sector remains sustainable. The package will begin to roll out from the end of April, and will include funding to begin research on a regular fee review mechanism. The Co-Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Legal Aid Committee, Pat Thom, said: “This is a step forward, but it unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that legal aid in Scotland remains in deep crisis, with solicitors leaving in droves and access to justice eroding at an alarming rate. We urgently need a long-term solution, not a band-aid that won’t even be taken out of its wrapper for another three months. What’s needed is a more comprehensive plan to halt the exodus of solicitors working in legal aid, and ensure people can receive the support they need to navigate Scotland’s justice system."

Labour calls for trans law legal advice
Scottish Labour's social justice chief Pam Duncan-Glancy has called for the UK and Scottish Governments to publish their legal advice on Holyrood's controversial gender reforms. She said it would be “helpful” if the documents were put into the public domain. Her comments came after Tory Scottish Secretary Alister Jack blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) legislation from receiving Royal Assent. Asked if she believed, in the interests of transparency, that the legal advice of both governments should be published, she said: “I think it would be helpful.” Duncan-Glancy also said she hopes the row will not drag on: “The Tories will always want something like this to drag on for years because it will distract from their incompetence. They want the culture war.” Meanwhile, Lord Charles Falconer, who served as the Lord Chancellor and Secretary State of Justice, during Tony Blair's premiership between 2003 and 2007, has said that years of constitutional politics from the SNP and the Conservatives has led the Gender Recognition Reform debate into the courts. The former justice secretary also highlights the fact that judges blocking the Bill from receiving royal assent would see legal minds overturn a "solution that a Conservative government had previously accepted".
Tougher laws against fox hunting with dogs backed by MSPs
MSPs have voted in favour of new legislation which limits hunting with packs of dogs in Scotland. The Scottish Government said tougher laws were required to stop illegal hunts 20 years after a ban on fox hunting was first put in place. The Hunting with Dogs Bill aims to close loopholes which allow the practice of killing wild mammals - including foxes, rabbits and hares - with packs of dogs. It replaces a previous law passed in 2002 and means hunters will no longer be able to use packs of hounds to flush out wild mammals unless they have a licence.
Scottish landlords driven south by higher taxes
Analysis by Hamptons shows the proportion of Scottish investors buying properties in other parts of Britain has more than doubled since 2019, from 2.5% to 5.3% this year, with landlords north of the border driven south by high taxes, a ban on rent increases and evictions. Although these bans were supposed to be short-lived, Nicola Sturgeon’s government last week revealed plans to extend the measures until September. However, unlike the current rental freeze, private landlords will be allowed to increase rents by a maximum of 3% during the six-month period. Most Scottish landlords who are buying in England and Wales are choosing Northern England, according to Hamptons, due to cheaper prices and high yields. John Blackwood, of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said there is already a shortage of rental properties and the exodus of Scottish landlords will only make matters worse.
Second Davidson Chalmers Stewart lawyer awarded CIWM charter status
Chala McKenna, an environmental lawyer at Davidson Chalmers Stewart, has been awarded chartered status with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM). She joins her colleague Laura Tainsh, a partner at the commercial law firm, to become only the second Scottish solicitor to achieve this industry qualification. Both Laura and Chala are also accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as specialists in environmental law, two of only three Scottish lawyers who hold this certification which recognises their skills and experience in dealing with complex and demanding legal cases within this field.
Increase in suspected drugs deaths across Scotland
The number of suspected drug deaths in Scotland increased towards the end of 2022, new figures show. In the first nine months of last year, figures published by Public Health Scotland (PHS) showed a 21% reduction in the number of fatal overdoses. However, numbers began to rise in later months, with 109 deaths in November alone. This is higher than the same month in both 2021 (89) and 2020 (93). The report states that suspected drug deaths increased between October and November but figures for October were not included. As a result of the rise in drug deaths in recent years, the Scottish government pledged to publish suspected drug death statistics on a quarterly basis, with the most recent release in December showing a fall of 15% between July and September when compared to the previous quarter. Suspected drug deaths are based on Police Scotland management information and are not confirmed through toxicology.
Glasgow Warriors sack Scotland full-back after domestic abuse guilty plea
Glasgow Warriors have terminated the contract of Rufus McLean after the Scotland wing pleaded guilty in court to domestic abuse. The Boston-born 22-year-old, who has three caps for his country, had his sentence deferred after appearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday. Warriors have now ended his contract as his actions "constituted gross misconduct and breach of contract". McLean has the right to appeal against the club's decision. But club managing director Al Kellock said: "Rufus admitted domestic abuse and his actions cannot be condoned. We have taken this matter extremely seriously. Sadly, with any crime, there is a victim and as a club we want to acknowledge the impact on the young woman involved." Warriors stress that they were already working with Police Scotland to support and promote its male education campaign "Don't be that Guy" and that further workshops are planned in the coming weeks.
Celtic Boys Club manager touched teen's private parts
Glasgow Sheriff Court has heard that a Celtic Boys Club manager touched a 15-year-old's private parts in a shower room at Celtic Park when the teenager was feeling upset after a game. The alleged victim, now aged 52, said he initially thought Francis Cairney was giving him a consoling hug because he was homesick, but was "shocked" when the manager touched him inappropriately. Cairney is charged with indecently assaulting one boy in the late 1970s and another in the 1980s at football facilities, and a third boy in a hotel room in Aviemore and a car in Cumbernauld.
Teenager in court accused of police officer's attempted murder
A teenager has been remanded in custody after appearing in court accused of attempting to murder a police officer. James Docherty, 18, faced a total of nine charges at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday. The teenager is accused of driving an Audi at police officers on 11 January in Bathfield, Leith, injuring one of them in the incident. After making no plea to the charges, Mr Docherty was committed for further examination and remanded in custody.
DWF Foundation passes £1m in donations
DWF is marking £1m in donations by its charitable foundation in its now seven years of giving.  The DWF Foundation is an independent charity that was launched by DWF, which since December 2015 has been the focus of charitable giving for DWF reflecting the stock exchange-listed group's values. Operating in locations where the firm is based – it has Scottish offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh – it currently supports registered charities with an impact in one or more of the areas of homelessness and poverty; health and wellbeing; employability; education; and environment and sustainability, as well as supporting charities in Ukraine over the past year. In reaching the £1m benchmark, the foundation has supported more than 500 charities and food banks around the world. DWF employees take part in fundraising, volunteering, team challenges, mentoring and other initiatives to support the charity. 

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