Legal Matters Scotland
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21st November 2023

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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Free mediation services expanded to help resolve civil disputes
The Scottish Government is providing £251,587 to fund the expansion of free mediation services in 2023/24. The services aim to help people involved in civil disputes reach a resolution and avoid the cost and stress of going to court. The expansion will see Strathclyde University's mediation clinic offer an additional 17 hubs across the county. The funding will be invested into the Strathclyde scheme and the Edinburgh service. Victims and community safety minister Siobhian Brown stated that civil disputes can be costly and time-consuming, affecting individuals, communities, and organizations. The mediation services aim to prevent civil cases from going to court.

Police urged to reopen case of stabbed fiancé
Former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for a new investigation must be launched to establish whether a man found dead following a row with his fiancée was murdered. Colin Marr, 23, died from a single knife wound to his chest on the evening of July 10, 2007. Police had ruled he had driven a kitchen blade though his own heart after Candice Bonar, his then partner, confronted him over his infidelity immediately before his death at their home in Lochgelly, Fife. However, Rennie, the constituency MSP and former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, has urged the authorities to intervene. He spoke after The Sunday Times disclosed that Baroness Black of Strome, a prominent forensic anthropologist, admitted that a report which she prepared on the case was inaccurate and should be discounted. Russell Findlay, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: “There are multiple red flags about the tragic death of Colin Marr, and I respect his family for campaigning for answers over so many years. This is one of several deaths of young men in Scotland in which the police hastily declared there was no foul play only for significant new facts to later emerge.”
Man accused of impersonating a nurse at Glasgow hospital
Lee Woods, 28, is due to stand trial after allegedly impersonating a nurse on multiple occasions at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. It is claimed Woods accessed the hospital on at least four occasions between March and his arrest in July. The 28-year-old is accused of wearing an NHS uniform, lanyard and falsified identification badge detailing his employment as a charge nurse. The charge against Woods is that he repeatedly gained access to the resuscitation and children’s areas of the hospital and behaved in a disorderly manner. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The safety of our patients, staff and visitors across all of our sites is a priority to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. We can confirm that an individual was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in July 2023 and our onsite teams provided support to the relevant authorities to enable appropriate action to be taken.”
Scottish brewery to take BrewDog to court
Jump Ship Brewing has taken BrewDog to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in London in a dispute over an alleged stolen beer name - Shore Leave. Jump Ship had launched a rhubarb and ginger pale ale under the Shore Leave moniker in June last year. It followed that up with a separate flavour, chuckleberry sour, in May this year. However, it emerged BrewDog had filed a trademark for Shore Leave in the spring of this year and James Watt, its co-founder, shared can designs on social media. Sonja Mitchell, the founder of Jump Ship, said cease and desist letters were sent to BrewDog at the end of August but there had been no response so she decided to take further action. The claim at the IPEC is seeking an injunction to stop BrewDog from selling the Shore Leave beer on the basis that the public could be deceived into thinking there is a commercial connection with the Jump Ship product.
Two men charged with murder of 36-year-old man
Two men, Craig Hayden and Leon Headey, have been charged with the murder of 36-year-old Ross MacGillivray in Inverness. MacGillivray was found with serious injuries and pronounced dead shortly after. The accused allegedly tied up MacGillivray and repeatedly struck him on the head and body. They are also accused of disposing of his clothing in the Caledonian Canal. Hayden and Headey appeared in Inverness Sheriff Court and have been remanded in custody.
Shocking number of empty properties in Edinburgh despite high rents
According to a survey by Admiral Home Insurance, nearly 7,000 properties in Edinburgh, collectively worth £1.8bn, are vacant, exacerbating the city's housing shortage. The study also found that across Scotland, 30,000 properties with a combined value of almost £7bn have been vacant for at least six months. The main reasons behind the empty dwellings are disputes over estates and relatives who are unaware of their inherited properties. Lisa Borthwick, the national manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which calls for vacant properties to be turned into affordable properties, said: “I think the examples of why homes become empty are very similar across Scotland. The most common reason is that when an owner passes away there might be a dispute over the estate or it might be that somebody who has inherited the property isn't aware of it at all."
Property prices in Aberdeen fall by 4.4% in the past year
Property prices in Aberdeen have fallen by 4.4% over the past year, according to figures released by Aberdeen Solicitors Property Centre (ASPC). The drop in prices has been attributed to rising interest rates and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The fluctuating oil price and downsizing by major oil companies have also affected consumer confidence. The price of a typical flat in Aberdeen fell from £122,971 to £121,801. Semi-detached properties decreased from £190,690 to £189,619 and detached homes on the market saw a drop in price from £326,052 to £323,959. A total of 1,259 properties were sold through ASPC between July to September, down 3.7% compared to the previous quarter but down 19.4% compared to a year ago.
Six Scottish projects secure £122m from Levelling Up Fund
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has announced a third round of funding under the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund, with six projects in Scotland to share a total of £122m. Projects to benefit will include active transport improvements across the country, electric vehicle charge points in North and South Ayrshire, work in the South of Scotland to renovate historic buildings in Annan and Peebles, regeneration funding for Elgin town centre and Drumchapel town centre, and for the Shawfield National Business District and Polmadie Burn to support the relocation of the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District campus. Dumfries and Galloway will also benefit from funding to improve transport links, including electric vehicle charge points, electric buses, and new transport hubs in five towns.
Scotland to avoid recession, experts predict
Scotland's economy is expected to avoid recession, with forecasts from the EY ITEM Club predicting growth in the coming years. The think tank projects growth of 0.3% in 2024, followed by an acceleration to 1.3% in 2025 and 1.5% in the following year. The report suggests that unemployment will not significantly rise and that the economies of Edinburgh and Glasgow will outperform the rest of Scotland. However, sentiment among businesses and households remains fragile due to high interest rates and inflation.  

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