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Scottish Legal News: Friday 20th December 2019

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Proprietors sued for payment of property maintenance charge win appeal as real burdens clause ‘void for uncertainty’

Sheriff Appeal Court
Sheriff Appeal Court

Homeowners who were ordered by a court to pay a proportion of the cost of maintaining the amenity grounds in their housing scheme after being sued by an estate and land management company have successfully challenged the decision.

The Sheriff Appeal Court ruled that the proprietors were not required to pay anything because the burdens clause in the title deeds was “void for uncertainty”.

‘Pro rata share’

Sheriff Principal Iain Abercrombie QC, sitting with Sheriff Principal Marysia Lewis and Appeal Sheriff Peter Braid, heard that land services provider Scottish Woodlands Limited had raised a simple procedure claim against Olajide Majekodunmi and Adijat Majekodunmi seeking payment of the balance of their pro rata share of the annual maintenance charge relating to a modern housing development at Wester Cowden in Dalkeith.

At the heart of the dispute was clause 7.2 of the Deed of Servitudes and Conditions, which defined the annual management charge and stated that “the pro rata share shall in the case of each plot be calculated by reference to the total number of plots created or permitted to be created within the entire site with each plot bearing annually a proportion of the said costs, remuneration, premiums and charges”.

The landscape company was seeking payment from the proprietors of the sum of £405.60, which they averred was the balance remaining due in relation to certain invoices issued to the respondents for what they described as the “annual shared maintenance charge” which included “maintenance, insurance, cumulative maintenance fund and administration charges”.

After hearing argument as to the meaning of the phrase “the total number of plots created or to be created”, but without hearing evidence in the factual matters in dispute, the summary sheriff found that the total number of homes permitted was 850 although only 647 had been completed.

Having selected that as the appropriate fraction, he then granted decree for payment of £308.26.

The appellant company appealed against that decision, arguing that on a proper construction of the title deeds, the summary sheriff “erred” in arriving at a pro rata share of 1/850, as opposed to the 1/647 share contended for. 

‘Void for uncertainty’

But the respondents cross-appealed on the ground that there was “no valid burden” and that therefore they did not require to pay anything. 

The respondents argued that as the benefited property could not be identified from the deed itself, or any plan attached thereto, the burden was “void for uncertainty”.

That was because the definition of “open ground” in the real burdens clauses referred in turn to public open space and landscaped areas, both of which required resorting to planning consents in order to identify the land comprised therein. 

Accordingly, the respondents argued that “four corners rule” was breached, as one required to look outwith the four corners of the deed to identify the benefited property, which was not permissible.

In response, the appellant argued that because the maximum extent of the benefited property was known to be the “entire site”, which was a clearly defined area, and the open ground fell within that area, the open ground was therefore “adequately identified’.

The purpose of identifying the benefited property in this case was to identify the extent of the land or proportion which individual proprietors were to pay to maintain. 

It was also submitted that the common law did not require the nomination and identification of the benefited property, and that section 4(2)(c)(ii) of the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003, which required the same, should be interpreted in a liberal way, while section 5(1)(b) further provided that it shall not be an objection to the validity of a real burden where a proportion or share payable is not specified “provided that the way in which that proportion or share can be arrived at is so specified”.

‘Four corners rule’

Allowing the cross-appeal and granting decree of absolvitor, the court ruled that the relevant clause was “void for uncertainty”.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Appeal Sheriff Braid said: “The applicable law can be stated as follows. The 2003 Act did not displace the common law ‘four corners’ rule. That rule requires the extent of the burdened property to be defined within the four corners of the deed which constitutes it. 

“However, whereas at common law the rule applied only to the description of the burdened property (since only the burdened property had to be identified in the constitutive deed), it now applies equally to the description of the benefited property, by virtue of section 4(2)(c)(ii) of the 2003 Act. It follows that one may not now have regard to extrinsic material in ascertaining the extent either of the burdened property or the benefited property.

“With that principle in mind, when we turn to the description of the benefited property in the present case, we see that it is the Open Ground. That in turn is defined as the Development Common Property which in turn includes both Public Open Space and Landscaped Areas both of which terms are defined by reference to any planning consent.

“So, following the bouncing ball through the complexities of the definition, one arrives at a position where one can only tell what the benefited land is by referring to planning consents. In our view, that plainly contravenes the four corners rule.

“In no way can the description of Open Ground in the present case be said to be a description of a definite piece (or pieces) of land. Consequently, and for all these reasons, the purported burden does fall foul of the four corners rule and is, in our view, void for uncertainty.”

The respondents’ successful cross-appeal rendered the company’s appeal on the construction of the clause irrelevant, but the court considered that the summary sheriff erred in his interpretation of the burden.

“Even if the summary sheriff’s construction were correct, there was no basis on the material before him for selecting the figure of 850 which must be taken as the denominator in perpetuity,” Sheriff Braid said.

He added: “We further consider that the court was not in a position to decide upon the respondents’ proper share of the costs of the Annual Management Charge until hearing evidence as to the number of plots completed and yet to be completed, and on the whole circumstances generally. Even if we are wrong in that conclusion, on any view the summary sheriff was not in a position to decide the appropriate denominator without further enquiry.”

The appeal sheriffs also expressed “considerable sympathy” for the respondents.

The judgment stated: “It is virtually impossible for the respondents, let alone the court, to tell from the information provided whether or not they have been charged the correct amount, and how the figure invoiced has been arrived at. We would observe that the claim as averred is so convoluted and lacking in specification as to be virtually meaningless. 

“The appellant is most fortunate that the summary sheriff did not dismiss the claim, which he would have been perfectly entitled to do, or at the very least issue an Unless Order requiring amendment of the averments. We also observe that this case shows the dangers of attempting to reach a final determination based on submissions where critical facts were in dispute. 

“We refrain from commenting on the drafting of the deeds themselves save for observing that they illustrate the further danger inherent in preparing documents of wholly unnecessary complexity.”

Copyright © Scottish Legal News Ltd 2019

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Tribunal rules that MI5 policy allowing agents to commit serious crimes is lawful

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled by majority that a secret MI5 policy allowing security service agents to commit serious crimes on UK soil is lawful.

In the first-ever dissenting opinions published in the tribunal's 20-year history, two judges set out their disagreement with the 3-2 majority judgment.

Lord Justice Singh (President), Scottish judge Lord Boyd of Duncansby (Vice President) and Sir Richard McLaughlin found in favour of the intelligence service while Professor Graham Zellick QC and Charles Flint QC dissented.

One judge warned that the UK government's claimed basis for the policy amounts to a “dangerous precedent”, while the other said the court had been asked to accept "fanciful" and "extraordinary" propositions.

The judgment was handed down today in the so-called ‘Third Direction’ case brought by four NGOs – Reprieve, the Pat Finucane Centre, Privacy International and CAJ – who argued that the policy has no legal basis and risked government involvement in severe rights abuses.

The NGOs, who launched their case in 2018, have confirmed their intention to challenge the IPT's ruling at the Court of Appeal.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said: "The IPT's knife-edge judgement, with unprecedented published dissenting opinions, shows just how dubious the government’s secret policy is.

"Our security services play a vital role in keeping this country safe, but history has shown us time and again the need for proper oversight and common sense limits on what agents can do in the public’s name."

Ilia Siatitsa, legal officer at Privacy International, said: "Today, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal decided that MI5 can secretly give informants permission to commit grave crimes in the UK, including violence. But two of its five members produced powerful dissenting opinions, seeking to uphold basic rule of law standards.

"As one of them put it, it is wrong to 'open the door to… powers of which we have no notice or notion, creating uncertainty and a potential for abuse'. We think the bare majority of the IPT got it seriously wrong. We will seek permission to appeal to protect the public from this abusive secretive power."

Daniel Holder, deputy director of CAJ, said: “The practice of paramilitary informant involvement in serious crime was a pattern of human rights violations that prolonged and exacerbated the Northern Ireland conflict.

"Archival documents show that the unlawful nature of informant conduct here was known at the time and it appears policy since has been even more formalised. This close ruling is far from the end of the matter."

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Expenses paid to justices of the peace to remain undisclosed

Daren Fitzhenry 

Expenses paid to justices of the peace will not be disclosed following a ruling by the information watchdog, STV reports.

JPs can claim travel and other expenses but the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) Daren Fitzhenry has rejected a freedom of information request intended to reveal details of individual claims.

He believes that publishing such information could have a “detrimental effect” and cause JPs “a degree of distress”.

He said “a clear distinction” arose between the role of JPs and those of salaried sheriffs and judges and that they “may have had no expectation that their personal data would be disclosed”.

The SIC also said there “appears to be sufficient procedures in place to ensure adequate scrutiny of the expenses”.

The request had been made by Peter Cherbi who has petitioned for a judicial register of interests.

He said the decision was “regressive, and effectively creates a separate rule of secrecy for JPs”.

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Changes to tenement maintenance legislation considered

New measures to be introduced aim to improve and maintain tenement flats across Scotland.

Legislative changes being considered include compulsory owners’ associations, building inspections every five years and a national reserve fund for repairs.

In the interim, measures to support voluntary change will be taken forward, such as supporting the establishment of owners associations.

Following the publication of the Scottish Parliamentary Working Group on Tenement Maintenance’s Final Report in June this, MSPs agreed that the working group’s recommendations merited serious and careful consideration.

The Scottish government has now responded to the report and will now carefully consider advice from the Scottish Law Commission due to the significant legislative changes needed to make the recommendations mandatory.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the actions will help to safeguard Scotland’s tenements, ensuring they continue to provide good quality, safe, sustainable and affordable homes.

He added: “These measures reinforce our commitment to support tenement owners and protect such an important part of our national heritage.

“Whilst tenements continue to provide good quality, safe, sustainable and affordable homes, this programme of support will help to ensure they are protected and preserved.

“Homeowners and landlords in tenements need to fully accept their shared responsibilities for the upkeep of their property to ensure all those living in tenements have good quality homes.”

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'Significant failings' in Disclosure Scotland IT project led to £44m overspend

A major ICT project at Disclosure Scotland, which provides criminal history checks for employers, was delivered 18 months late and at more than twice the original budget.

A report from the Auditor General for Scotland says there were significant failings in control and oversight for the new PASS system, which aims to improve processing of disclosure checks. In 2015 the Scottish government approved a budget of £34 million. The project cost has now risen to an estimated £78m.

The system only just met a deadline for roll-out in September this year. It has yet to deliver full transformation and still requires manual work by temporary staff.

The Auditor General said over-optimistic assumptions were compounded by lack of financial reporting and governance of the project.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: "I have reported on the failures of many ICT projects in recent years and set out clear principles public bodies should follow. There are lessons to be learned from Disclosure Scotland's experience with the PASS system. While the rollout in September was a significant milestone, there have been real weaknesses in control and oversight of the project.

"The system was delivered late, over budget, and with less functionality than had been originally intended. There remains more work to be done before its full ambition, and wider transformation, is realised."

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said: “This is yet another IT calamity under the SNP, to be added to the likes of the failed i6 policing project, NHS 24 and the CAP system that caused turmoil for farmers.

“While this system is now just about up and running, at significant extra cost and time, too many other public agencies are still relying on dysfunctional IT, including the national force.

“The SNP government now needs to demonstrate how it is sharing the learning from these failures so that more projects don’t suffer similar fates."

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Misgendering trans people not protected as philosophical belief, tribunal rules

The belief that sex is "biologically immutable" and transgender people should be treated and referred to as the sex they were assigned at birth is not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, a tribunal has ruled.

The London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled against a tax consultant in a test case she brought against the Centre for Global Development (CGD).

The tribunal heard that Maya Forstater had worked as a consultant on tax issues with the think tank since 2015, but the relationship was broken off at the end of 2018 following a row over alleged "transphobic tweets".

She contended that her views on gender are a philosophical belief and that she was subject to direct discrimination because of them.

However, Judge James Tayler concluded that a "core component" of Ms Forstater's belief is "that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".

In a 26-page ruling, the employment judge said that approach "is not worthy of respect in a democratic society".

Louise Rea, senior associate at London-based Bates Wells, who advised CGD, said: "A number of commentators have viewed this case as being about the claimant’s freedom of speech.

"Employment Judge Tayler acknowledged that there is nothing to stop the claimant campaigning against the proposed revisions to the Gender Recognition Act, or expressing her opinion that there should be some spaces that are restricted to women assigned female at birth.

"However, she can do so without insisting on calling trans women men. It is the fact that her belief necessarily involves violating the dignity of others which means it is not protected under the Equality Act 2010."

Peter Daly of Slater and Gordon, representing Ms Forstater, said: "The significance of this judgment should not be downplayed. Had our client been successful, she would have established in law protection for people – on any side of this debate – to express their beliefs without fear of being discriminated against."

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Robin Dunlop: Finders keepers? Treasure Trove in Scotland

Robin Dunlop

With the recent discovery of Bronze Age carved stone figures in Orkney, the Gold Ring at Loch Lomond reported earlier this year and the Kirkcudbright Viking treasure saga that rumbles on from 2017 the law of who is entitled to what on a treasure find is back in the headlines again, writes Robin Dunlop.

Who owns the treasure?

Under Scots law the concept of ‘bona vacantia’ (ownerless goods such as artefacts, jewellery and coins) is applied and means that ownership of the treasure on discovery passes to the Crown, not the landowner or the finder. Finds must be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit at the National Museum of Scotland where they are assessed and valued and a reward if applicable is then recommended. It is important to note that objects are claimed based on their archaeological or historical importance rather than the pure financial value, therefore an early bronze age tool could be as important as a highly decorative 18th century gold necklace. The find is firstly considered on whether it is of significant importance and then a panel decides the level of the reward which is based on the current market value of the object.

Who is entitled to the reward?

Scots law provides that the finder of treasure is the person legally entitled to the reward except where the find is part of organised fieldwork (e.g. an archaeological survey ahead of a building development). This contrasts with the position in England and Wales which is governed by the Treasure Act 1996 and entitles both the finder and the landowner to the reward. Furthermore, if the English landowner had not granted permission to the finder to search the land, they are usually also entitled to the finder’s share. This presents obvious difficulties for anyone detecting without permission south of the border. The difference in Scotland is highlighted by the Kirkcudbright Viking treasure case, the finder was reported to have shared the £1.98m reward with the landowner, the Church of Scotland, based on a prior agreement. There is now however a case to demand part payment is now in the Court of Session based on contract rather than Treasure Trove as the finders reward has not been split as the Church believed was intended in terms of their agreement. Although discoveries of the scale of the Kirkcudbright Viking treasure are extremely rare, it would be wise for landowners to reach an agreement with detectorists on profits from any finds in advance of allowing detection activities. Agreements would need to be sufficiently attractive so not to deter the detectorists. Such an approach would result in a closer match to the law in England and Wales.

Access to Land

In Scotland, legislation on land access rights provides the starting point. Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 members of the public have a right to access land for commercial purposes or for profit, providing that activity could also be undertaken otherwise than commercially or for profit. An example would be accessing land as a hillwalking guide. However, the 2003 Act and accompanying Outdoor Access Code prohibits access to land where there are crops growing or when there is the intention of taking anything away for profit. Detectorists are therefore entitled to search land without permission from the landowner, but require consent to do so if they intend to remove their finds for profit, such as a reward. As may be expected, further restrictions apply to searches within a scheduled monument area, where permission is also required from Historic Environment Scotland.

Agreement Terms

Any landowners seeking a share of the reward for any treasure found on their land are well advised to enter into a written agreement that provides the detectorists with permission to search and clearly states the agreed split of any reward, they should also consider the time frame of when the activities are to occur, the restoration of the site if a “dig” is to occur, and a confidentiality clause to ensure that the site is not then subjected to a rush of treasure hunters. It would also be wise to ensure that both parties have public liability insurance for their activities in place – the detectorists, to provide cover in the event of any damage or loss caused by their presence or actions while on the land in question, such as leaving a gate open and allowing livestock to escape; and the Landowner, for permitting such access.

For further information and advice please contact a member of the Land and Rural Business team.

Robin Dunlop is an associate at Thorntons LLP

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Advocate General Øe: Personal data transfers under standard contractual clauses are valid

Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe
Advocate General
Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe

Personal data transfers from the European Union to third countries under the standard contractual clauses established by the European Commission are valid, according to an Advocate General of the European Court of Justice.

Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe gave his view on issues raised in a long-running dispute between Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems and Facebook Ireland.

The data of Facebook users residing in the EU, such as Mr Schrems, are transferred, in full or in part, from Facebook Ireland, the Irish subsidiary of Facebook Inc., to servers located in the United States, where they are processed.

Mr Schrems lodged a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) in 2013 on the basis that Edward Snowden's revelations about US surveillance activities showed deficiencies in the protection of data transferred there.

The case led to the European Court of Justice's ruling that the "safe harbour" scheme for personal data transfers from the EU to the US was invalid.

The DPC is now considering a reformulated complaint from Mr Schrems which depends on the validity of Decision 2010/87 on standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US.

The High Court agreed to a request from the DPC to refer questions about that decision to the European court.

In yesterday’s Opinion, Advocate General Øe proposes that the Court of Justice should reply that the analysis of the questions has disclosed nothing to affect the validity of Decision 2010/87.

The Advocate General observes, as a preliminary point, that the sole issue in the main proceedings before the High Court is whether Decision 2010/87 — whereby the Commission established the standard contractual clauses relied on in support of the transfers to which Mr Schrems’ complaint relates — is valid.

The Advocate General considers, in the first place, that EU law applies to transfers of personal data to a third country where those transfers form part of a commercial activity, even though the transferred data might undergo processing, by the public authorities of that third country, for the purposes of national security.

In the second place, the Advocate General finds that the provisions of the GDPR on transfers to third countries are aimed at ensuring the continuity of the high level of protection of personal data, whether the data are transferred on the basis of an adequacy decision or on guarantees provided by the exporter. In his view, the way in which that aim is achieved differs according to the legal basis of the transfer.

On the one hand, the purpose of an adequacy decision is to find that the third country concerned ensures, as a result of the law and practices of that country, a level of protection of the fundamental rights of the persons whose data are transferred essentially equivalent to that provided by the GDPR, read in the light of the Charter.

On the other hand, the appropriate safeguards afforded by the exporter, inter alia by contractual means, must themselves ensure that level of protection.

In that respect, the standard contractual clauses adopted by the Commission provide a general mechanism applicable to transfers irrespective of the third country of destination and the level of protection guaranteed there.

In the third place, the Advocate General examines the validity of Decision 2010/87 in the light of the Charter. He considers that the fact that that decision and the standard contractual clauses which it sets out are not binding on the authorities of the third country of destination and therefore do not prevent them from imposing obligations that are contrary to the requirements of those clauses on the importer does not in itself render that decision invalid.

The compatibility of Decision 2010/87 with the Charter depends on whether there are sufficiently sound mechanisms to ensure that transfers based on the standard contractual clauses are suspended or prohibited where those clauses are breached or impossible to honour.

In his view, that is the case in so far as there is an obligation — placed on the data controllers and, where the latter fail to act, on the supervisory authorities — to suspend or prohibit a transfer when, because of a conflict between the obligations arising under the standard clauses and those imposed by the law of the third country of destination, those clauses cannot be complied with.

The Advocate General also notes that the referring court indirectly calls into question the assessments made by the Commission in the decision of 12 July 2016, known as the ‘privacy shield’ decision.

In that decision, the Commission found that the US ensured an adequate level of protection of data transferred from the EU under the system established by that decision, having regard to, inter alia, the safeguards surrounding the access to the transferred data by the US intelligence authorities and the judicial protection available to the persons whose data are transferred.

According to the Advocate General, the resolution of the dispute in the main proceedings does not require the Court to rule on the validity of the ‘privacy shield’ decision, since that dispute concerns only the validity of Decision 2010/87. Nevertheless, the Advocate General sets out, in the alternative, the reasons that lead him to question the validity of the ‘privacy shield’ decision in the light of the right to respect for private life and the right to an effective remedy.

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CMA report expresses concern over market position of Google and Facebook

A lack of real competition to tech giants Google and Facebook could mean people are already missing out on the next new idea from a potential rival, the Competition and Markets Authority has said in a new report.

Furthermore, the market position of Google and Facebook may potentially be undermining the ability of newspapers and other publishers to produce valuable content as their share of revenues is squeezed by large platforms.

The CMA’s interim report found that last year Google accounted for more than 90 per cent of all revenues earned from search advertising in the UK, with revenues of around £6 billion and that, in the same year, Facebook accounted for almost half of all display advertising revenues in the UK, reaching more than £2bn.

The CMA has also found that the default settings people are faced with online have a profound effect on choice and the shape of competition. Last year in the UK, Google was willing to pay around £1bn – 16 per cent of all its search revenues – where it was the default search engine on mobile devices such as Apple phones.

The CMA also expressed concern about the fact that media platforms such as Facebook do not allow consumers to opt out of personalised advertising: rather, people are presented with a take-it-or-leave it offer, forcing them to share considerable amounts of personal data as a condition for using the service. And it is difficult to access privacy settings on these platforms, which are often only visible after navigating through multiple menus.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "Most of us visit social media sites and search on the internet every day, but how these firms work can be a mystery.

"So far in this study, we have used our legal powers to discover how major online platforms operate. Digital advertising fuels big businesses like Google and Facebook and we have been building a picture of how this complex new market works. We’ve looked especially at how these firms collect and use people’s data, how they monetise it and what this means for rival companies who want to compete, as well as the people and businesses using these services every day.

"We’re now inviting comments on what we have found. At the end of the study, we’ll present our findings to the new Government as they decide whether and how to regulate what is an increasingly central sector in all our lives."

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Provisional agreement reached on recast Drinking Water Directive

The European Commission has welcomed the provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament and European Council on the recast Drinking Water Directive.

The agreement is based on the proposal adopted by the Commission in February 2018, as a direct follow-up to the Right2Water European Citizens' Initiative. It aims to improve the quality of drinking water and access to it as well as provide better information to citizens.

Currently, drinking water is controlled “end-of-pipe”. The newly agreed rules implement the so-called risk-based-approach, allowing for further prevention and mitigation measures to protect drinking water sources.

Another important change in the legislation aims to give the public user-friendly access to information about the quality and supply of drinking water in their living area.

The agreement includes detailed hygienic requirements for materials in contact with drinking water and gives the European Chemicals Agency a key role in ensuring that only safe substances can be used in pipes and taps in contact with water.

The provisional agreement is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Citizens have called on the Commission loud and clear to propose an initiative to ensure guaranteed access to safe drinking water for Europeans. The Commission followed up on that call, made through a European Citizens' Initiative, with an ambitious proposal.

"[The] co-legislators have also heard that call and agreed to modernise EU rules, improving the quality of drinking water on the basis of the most recent standards, increasing access to water for all and enhancing transparency in this essential sector. Together we can and must protect the health and safety of our citizens."

Dr Jill Robbie, lecturer in law at Glasgow University, told SLN: "The announcement that the European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional agreement in relation to a revised drinking water directive shows that the EU is taking seriously the European Citizens’ Initiative regarding access to clean and safe water.

"Ensuring the quality of drinking water requires a holistic approach and is key to meeting the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals. The agreed text recognises the significance of pollutants such as micro-plastics, showing an up-to-date understanding of the risks to our water supply."

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Glasgow School of Law podcast explores jury research

The latest episode of the University of Glasgow School of Law podcast features Professors Fiona Leverick and James Chalmers discussing their findings for the Scottish Jury Research Project with Dr Alan Brown.

Commissioned by the Scottish government, the research was undertaken jointly with Professor Vanessa Munro from the University of Warwick and led by Ipsos MORI.

As the biggest mock jury project in the UK to date, the research sought to determine what effects certain unique features of the Scottish judicial system may – or may not – have on the process of jury decision-making.

Listen here

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Robert Sutherland to brave the Arctic in aid of Children 1st

Terra Firma advocate Robert Sutherland is undertaking an Arctic trek next year to raise funds for charity Children 1st.

Children 1st provides help and support for children, their families and carers in Scotland. The work they do makes a real difference to children and families whose lives are affected by family separation, divorce, bereavement, violence and drug or alcohol problems.

The charity also runs a freephone support service called ParentLine which is staffed by trained call-takers, and it is responsible for recruiting, training, managing and monitoring the performance of Safeguarders across Scotland.

In September 2018, Robert was part of a group of fundraisers which climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Children 1st. He now wants to raise more money for the charity as a member of another group, doing a three-day trek in the Arctic Circle in January 2020. The trek starts in Rovaniemi, Finland (the official home of Santa Claus). The team flies out on 20th January 2020, and the next day they collect their pulks, and double check their equipment. The trek starts on 22nd January. The only things that are guaranteed are plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The first day’s walk is 28km before the team pitches their tents on a frozen lake. They don’t know what the weather conditions will be like, except that it will be very cold. Daytime temperatures are likely to be below -12C, and night-time temperatures combined with wind chill could make it feel between -30C and -40C. If the team is lucky and the sky is clear, there may be a chance to see the northern lights. Days two and three take them further into the Arctic Circle, with some hilly forest terrain before the final stretch.

Robert would be extremely grateful for any donations. These can either be given directly or online here.

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iBIC to host joint investigative interviews masterclass next motnth

Professor Michael Lamb

An event to be held in January will deliver a masterclass in joint investigative interviews (JIIs).

Getting It Right For Every Child Witness is necessary and achievable. Children can be good witnesses when adults are good questioners, as this short animation by Professor Martine Powell and her colleagues explains.

The conference at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh will open with a talk from world-renowned developmental psychologist Professor Michael Lamb, emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge.

Advocate John Halley and Dr Ann Clark of QMU are contributors to the development and teaching of the Scottish NICHD Protocol Technique for JIIs and will also speak at the event.

iBIC's expert contributors will help to prepare practitioners for what they need to know about JIIs for courts, children's hearings, child protection and other professional practice. This conference is intended for those working with JIIs in any professional capacity.

Book your place here

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Last volume of Lord Hope’s Diaries published

Lord Hope

UK Supreme Court … and Afterwards 2009-2015 has just been published. This volume, the last in the series, covers the first four years of the Supreme Court’s existence and continues with Lord Hope’s experience sitting on the Crossbenches in the House of Lords.

House of Lords 1996 to 2009. This was a period of reform of the House of Lords, then planning for the creation of the new Supreme Court.

Senior Counsel 1978-1986 covers the period from his taking silk in 1978 to the months before his election as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates

Dean of Faculty 1986-1989 covers Lord Hope’s time as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

Lord President 1989-1996 deals with his term of office as Lord President of the Court of Session.

All five volumes are available from Avizandum Bookshop.

Order on line at

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Weekend Books – Online Courts and the Future of Justice

Online Courts and the Future of JusticeIrish barrister Andrew McKeown critically examines the proposals put forward by legal tech expert Professor Richard Susskind in his latest book.

Online Courts and the Future of Justice is a fascinating read for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. It is clear that Professor Susskind is sincerely interested in the greater access to justice for ordinary people.

The author notes that more people in the world have access to the internet than access to justice. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 46 per cent have access to the protection of the law, whereas over 50 per cent live with internet.

Professor Susskind implies that online courts might give greater access to justice, but his ideas give too much power to the state. It is suggested that people don’t really want lawyers, they want a just solution to their problems. Yet he concedes that members of the public are often not familiar enough with the law to recognise that they have reason to take legal advice in the first place.

In his scenario, guidance is still given to litigants, not by independent lawyers sworn to represent only their client’s best interests, but by agents of the state in the form of online case officers. Susskind notes that there may be constitutional difficulties, but he doesn’t fully explore the ramifications of this.

Susskind suggests that litigants would be better able to represent themselves if courts were online. He notes that litigants in person often come into court with indecipherable bundles of papers. Yet, if courts are online, their arguments, which might make a lot of sense in person when actually heard by a judge in court, may not land.

When faced with the issue of ‘hard cases’, he supposes that such cases would be heard, at least at first, in physical courts. He states that the system would identify such cases but doesn’t give an adequate explanation of how this would happen. He argues that the vast majority of cases are heard in the lower courts, and no such issues generally arise.

It must be remembered that Melling v Ó Mathghamhna [1962] IR 1, and other such cases of constitutional importance, first arose in the District Court. Even when such constitutional issues do not arise, the idea that complex cases are not heard in the lower courts is one which no legal practitioner would share.

The reader is left wondering not only of the state of the courts in the future proposed by Professor Susskind, but also of the state of the law as a whole. There is some limited investigation of the place of common law in such a system.

The Irish courts have shown a willingness to engage with changes in technology. In 2016, the Supreme Court heard Lannigan v Barry, a paperless case. Utilising eCúirt Teoranta, founded by Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh BL and Kieran Morris BL, Android-powered tablets took the place of lever-arch folders.

The exact place of technology in our courts, and of our courts in the shifting technological world, remains to be seen.

Online Courts and the Future of Justice by Richard Susskind. Published by Oxford University Press, 368 pp.

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Rights watch

A round-up of human rights stories from around the world.

India: Protesters across country defy ban on citizenship law protests | The Guardian

Turmoil has continued to escalate across India over a controversial citizenship law that is seen as discriminatory against Muslims.

Catalonia: Court ruling a 'victory with a sting in the tail' for Junqueras, say legal experts | Catalan News

The European Court of Justice's ruling that jailed independence leader Oriol Junqueras had parliamentary immunity from when he was elected an MEP resolves one issue relating to the political rights of the former Catalan vice president.

Chile: Over 90 per cent back new constitution | Morning Star

Over 90 per cent of Chileans who took part in a mass consultation want a new constitution, the Chilean Association of Municipalities has reported.

Korea: Two North Koreans tried to defect. Did Seoul send them to their deaths? | The New York Times

The repatriation of two squid fishermen, to what rights activists said was a certain execution in North Korea, has incited outrage in the South.

Fossil fuel firms 'could be sued' for climate change | The Independent

The world’s most polluting companies could be sued for their contributions to global warming, a major human rights inquiry has found in what has been described as a “landmark victory for climate justice”.

Uzbekistan: Questions over country's new era of 'openness' | BBC News

Amid the first parliamentary elections under a new president, there are doubts reforms are genuine.

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And finally... pro bono

The head of a cash-strapped law school has suggested that part-time staff could donate their pay back to the university.

Ian Holloway, dean of law at the University of Calgary, told sessional instructors in an email that they could give their income back in return for a charitable donation tax receipt.

The instructors, who are mostly full-time lawyers, are usually paid a flat rate of $6,000 CAD (around €4,100) for teaching in an area of their expertise.

Mr Holloway told CBC: "I know for some of them, they aren't doing it for the money. Very few are doing it for the money.

"They do it because they like the idea of giving back, they like the idea of engaging students."

He added: "I just wanted to let them know we'll have to tighten the belt when it comes to part-time teachers, too."

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Using Legal Tech is a marathon, not a sprint

Eliud Kipchoge entered the history books becoming the first man to run a marathon in under two hours, an absolutely awesome feat. He is the first to admit that it was a ‘team effort’. He made sure that he had the right people around him. From creating his nutrition plan and training regime, to ensuring the best equipment and the right process to ensure the most efficient way to run the race, they had everything worked out. Training complete he then had to execute the plan on the day. But he didn’t do it alone. He couldn’t. He ran with carefully selected pace makers who ran in a very specific formation to maximise the efficiency of his running and ran the race in the best time ever.

Kipchoge’s motto is “There is no success without sacrifice”.

Your career is just like that marathon. You trained very hard to become a lawyer. You put in the hours and sought out the best tutors and mentors so that when you finished your training you were ready for the big race. But who are you taking on that race with you to ensure that you get the most out of all that training? Who are the team you will surround yourself with to ensure you get the best work done in the most efficient way possible?

What if there were smarter ways to work which meant time, which would normally be wasted with repetition or inefficiency, can be increased by bringing automation to the processes and removing the manual repetition on everyday tasks?

As daylight becomes a thing of the past and we head into the deepest part of winter, the clocks have changed, Spring marathon build-ups and preparation for the new business year are starting to take shape. Planning will become a large part of the process to success.

CaseLoad has been designed to effectively do most of the thinking around what needs to be achieved daily and weekly to work towards goals and targets. Which in turn, leads to more time for non-work-related activities. This might be like a weekly mileage target in the marathon training or a WIP target set by your department.

A recent client meeting cited an example where they said producing documents such as a power of attorney now takes minutes instead of hours, meaning they can serve more clients throughout the working day. This leads to less time in the office out-with normal hours and their client are now receiving a slick, modern experience.

Peter Mason, Director at Macleod & MacCallum, said; “When we were researching software providers the thing that stood out for us on the Denovo website was a promise of time saving. That’s really what every firm wants. Since choosing the system I’m delighted to say that’s definitely been the case for us.

We have been able to use the document production system to give us huge efficiencies – saving staff time and management time. Using approved document templates means we no longer need to do this manually. The saving in time has allowed us to reallocate staff time to other tasks, rather than focusing on mundane, duplication of documents, this can now be done in seconds. This allows staff to be more client facing, which is what they really want to do. 

We’ve also set up an internal IT support group to help us improve our working practices. Previously we would have had no chance to do this because our staff would be too busy typing.

We didn’t want to be guilty of using the system superficially, as many firms are. We recognised that creating a group focused on getting the most out of the system would allow us to be more efficient and give members of the group an opportunity to educate the wider team. 

With workload production being more streamlined our team are now able to provide an improved turnaround time for clients, and still be able to leave the office at a reasonable hour to spend time with their families and doing the things they really want to be doing in their own time outside of work – it has undoubtedly helped the work – life balance of our staff.”

Now you can avoid time wasting repetition. Let Caseload’s wizard do the work. Enter client data into CaseLoad just once and avoid re-typing information to allow you to focus on what matters - your cases. The power of having the best legal document preparation software inside of your case management system ranges from never re-typing an address into a document again to automatic paragraph inclusion based on your facts and parties. Whole document packs can be created within a few steps using the document production wizard.

The capability to build automated legal forms and get documents out the door with the help of legal document software, the more volume you can take and the more profit you can generate for your firm.

Now it’s up to you. Make smart changes to spend your time focusing on serving the law or making that marathon start line in a much happier place. With consistent training, focus and support from Denovo you can deliver remarkable results. Make the sacrifices in the right places on your journey to a happier work-life balance.

Find out more by visiting, email us at or give us a call on 0141 331 5290.

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Scots Law Conventions Series returns to Glasgow

CLT Scotland, in association with the University of Strathclyde, has launched the first event in the Scots Law 2020 Conventions Series. Taking place at the Glasgow Hilton on 9th & 10th March, delegates will be able to choose from 10 individual conferences, each providing 6 hours of CPD.

Roy Spiers, CLT Scotland’s director of programmes, said: “Our Scots Law Conventions Series is now firmly established in the legal calendar and we are delighted to return to Glasgow in March after another successful event at BT Murrayfield last month.”

The 10 individual conferences at the event will cover the subject areas of Conveyancing, Personal Injury, Contract Law, Licensing, Family Law, Corporate, Commercial Property, Employment, Criminal and Elderly Client. All bookings received on or before 20th December will attract an advanced offer price starting from £140 plus VAT.

Delegates can register by booking at, emailing or calling 0141 225 6700.

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Pricing legal services; from hourly rates to fixed fee - what next?

Mark Baines

Mark Baines

Legal Sector Manager

Armstrong Watson

With a large proportion of firms now offering fixed fee services, and this only likely to increase, some suggest that it could be a race to be the lowest cost provider. As a result, law firms need to get innovative with pricing strategy and involve their clients in the decision.

Over the last few years there has been increasing pressure on solicitors toward fixed fees and a move away from hourly billing, thus moving more of the risk from the client to solicitor. Now with fixed fees locked into not just the consumer’s mind but also that of the B2B customer, a further pressure on margins is arising in the form of legal price comparison websites. The danger here is that, in the absence of any other information, the client will always go for the lowest cost and law firms are then in a desperate race to the bottom.

To compound this, the solicitor’s usual response when under price pressure is to discount, as that’s what the client demands. This needn’t necessarily be the case, in the first instance it would be in the best interests of both parties to start a conversation in which it is pointed out the value that is added through the solicitors current approach, rather than the generic offering received over the internet. But the point to bear in mind is that while clients may say initially that they want the lowest price this is usually because they have been given no other option. In some surveys the proportion of clients who go for the lowest price is around 10%. The majority of the rest prefer value pricing or guaranteed pricing.

So how do the law firm maximise profit and revenue? The answer is that fixed fees and hourly billing are not the only pricing models. How about pricing using one of the following methods:

  • Portfolio pricing
  • Fee range
  • Volume pricing
  • Fee cap
  • Versioning
  • Premium pricing

Before deciding on the pricing strategy, the client is going to have to have greater involvement in pricing decision. That way the solicitor will be able to uncover what the client values in the service provided and the law firm can price accordingly. With the larger clients this could be through face to face discussions where the solicitor points out the areas of added value, possibly makes guarantees by way of service delivery or price cap. However with smaller clients, and to get a better overview of the solicitors client base the use of data analytics can give a fantastic insight. While in the past solicitors have relied on their practice management software which provided little useful information, there are now software applications which can drill further into the solicitors data, showing which areas to concentrate on and where the business is acquired from. If the firm derives its business through the internet there will be a wealth of data on what the client values and the price can be adjusted accordingly.

In involving clients in the pricing strategy and allowing them to choose what they value margins can be driven up by anywhere from 5 to 15%. That’s got to be good news for the law firm, the client and for the legal market as a whole.

Mark Baines

Legal Sector Manager

Armstrong Watson

Tel 0808 1445575

Mark Baines is a Legal Sector Manager at Armstrong Watson, specialising exclusively in advising law firms.  Based in Leeds, Mark is part of the legal sector team at Armstrong Watson, which has 16 offices and over 400 people.  The legal sector team advises law firms throughout the UK on strategic, structural and other business improvement issues as well as providing efficient accounting, tax and SRA accounts rules services.  Further information can be found at:

This article is a general guide to the issues that we see in practice. It is not a substitute for professional advice which takes account of your personal circumstances. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action on the basis of this article.

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Latest Traineeships

Latest Jobs

Dispute Resolution Associate – Jones Whyte LLP

Role: Dispute Resolution Associate

Company: Jones Whyte LLP

Hours: Full Time (Flexible Working)

Location: Glasgow City Centre

Salary: Competitive

Description of the Role:

Jones Whyte Law is a young, dynamic and forward-thinking firm.

As part of our continued growth (34% growth in 2019), we require a Dispute Resolution Solicitor to join our Commercial Litigation team.

The successful candidate will be responsible for managing their own varied commercial and civil caseload whilst ensuring the best outcome for our clients.

We are looking for an ambitious, motivated Solicitor who is committed to providing high quality legal services.

Key Responsibilities: 

  • Manage own caseload
  • Litigating and pursuing claims
  • Negotiate settlements
  • Court advocacy
  • Correspond with clients, other solicitors and liaise with Counsel and experts where appropriate
  • Provide guidance and support to staff within the department
  • Support business development within the department

Essential Criteria:

  • Good knowledge of Court practice and procedures
  • Court advocacy experience
  • Experience of litigation in Scotland
  • Excellent relationship and client handling skills
  • Strong communication and organisation skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Positive outlook

What We Offer:

We invest in our staff and offer training (legal and otherwise) far beyond your prescribed professional requirements.

Glasgow city centre office with flexible and home based working.

Competitive salary and package.

A young, collegiate working environment.

To apply for the role, please submit your CV and covering letter, including notice period and salary expectations to

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Contracts Officer – University of Edinburgh (The Roslin Institute)

£28,331- £32,816 pa – fixed term for 12 months

The University of Edinburgh is looking for an enthusiastic individual to join our legal services team based at The Roslin Institute on the Easter Bush Campus, to fill a key position for a fixed 12-month period as a maternity cover. This small but busy team actively manages and supports the production of a high volume of University research contracts relating to: confidentiality; material transfer; postgraduate studentships; assignation of IPR; and consultancy. We have a proactive, customer-focussed approach and provide a full and effective legal support in relation to intellectual property and commercial law matters, working to ensure that the University is protected from contractual risks.

You will prepare, review, amend and negotiate University style and third party contracts in accordance with University policies. Working within agreed guidelines and templates, you will negotiate robust and appropriate agreements on behalf of the University. You will liaise with academics, business development, research office, governance and legal department colleagues. The overall aim is to secure an efficient turnaround of standard contracts.

This post would suit a self-starting individual with significant and demonstrable relevant experience of commercial contract negotiation OR academic research contracts negotiation, OR with experience of contract negotiation in a biomedical research environment.

We are looking for someone who is organised and flexible, uses initiative, is able to cope under pressure in a multi-tasked environment and who has excellent interpersonal skills and an eye for detail.

This post is available on a fixed term basis, with a working pattern of 35 hours per week for 12 months but we will consider flexible working patterns.

Informal enquiries about the post may be made to:

Clare Neilson, Senior Legal Advisor, The Roslin Institute, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian EH25 9RG. Tel: 0131 651 9369 or email


Shereen Johnson, Legal Advisor, The Roslin Institute, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian EH25 9RG.

Tel: 0131 651 9110 or email

Reference: 050749

Closing Date: 13 January 2020

For further particulars and to submit an application visit our website

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Solicitor or experienced Paralegal – DAC Beachcroft

The Glasgow Claims Solutions team are looking to recruit an enthusiastic Solicitor or experienced Paralegal to join our Motor Credit Hire team. The ideal candidate will have previous experience of dealing with Scottish civil litigation claims at Simple Procedure and Ordinary Cause level.

The successful candidate will also be expected to meet the following criteria:

  • A Solicitor or experienced Paralegal with a keen interest and proven ability in the volume litigated credit area.
  • Experience in drafting court pleadings, and conducting procedural hearings and proofs.
  • Be able to build good relationships within the team and also with our commercial/insurer client.
  • Able to demonstrate a reasonable level of self-sufficiency, combined with an awareness of the boundaries of own competence/authority.
  • An ability to adopt a commercial (or pragmatic) perspective rather than an ‘academic’ approach to legal issues.

Core responsibilities:

  • You will be working in a team of around 3 fee earners who work exclusively on defended claims. The team is within a wider office that handles a variety of claims and legal issues and part of a national Credit Hire team.
  • Your case load will be focused on RTA claims dealing with litigated liability disputes, credit hire and damage claims. These range from Simple Procedure to Ordinary Cause level and can include fraudulent credit hire claims, liability, indemnity and associated losses including personal injury, credit repair and diminution.
  • Your work will involve the analysis of evidence and setting case strategies encompassing both technical and commercial considerations alongside obtaining and drafting pleadings, witness statements and conducting (telephone) negotiation of claims.

We are delighted to offer our employees a good remuneration package which includes private medical insurance amongst other benefits and a competitive bonus scheme. In addition to this we provide employees with an environment that promotes professional progression and development alongside a healthy work life balance.

To apply, please click here or contact Emma Colls by emailing

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Solicitor or experienced Paralegal – DAC Beachcroft

The Glasgow Claims Solutions team are looking to recruit an enthusiastic Solicitor or experienced Paralegal to join our Motor Fraud team. After a period of consolidation in the counter fraud market, this is an exciting time for the Motor Counter Fraud team as it is poised for substantial growth following some significant client wins.

The ideal candidate will have previous experience of dealing with Scottish civil litigation claims at all levels in the Scottish court system. Experience of handling fraudulent claims would be advantageous but is not essential.

The successful candidate will also be expected to meet the following criteria:

  • Experience in drafting court pleadings, and conducting procedural hearings and proofs.
  • Be able to build good relationships within the team and also with our commercial/insurer client.
  • Able to demonstrate a reasonable level of self-sufficiency, combined with an awareness of the boundaries of own competence/authority.
  • An ability to adopt a commercial (or pragmatic) perspective rather than an ‘academic’ approach to legal issues.

Core responsibilities:

  • You will be working in a team of around 7 fee earners who handle a wide variety of pre-litigation and litigated cases where fraud is suspected.  The team is within a wider office that handles a variety of claims and legal issues and part of a national Motor Fraud team of 90 fee earners, working alongside the largest intelligence team in the country.
  • The type of work includes: minimal impact cases, fabricated claims, phantom passengers, contrived claims, staged claims, grossly exaggerated claims, ringed and organised fraud claims.
  • Your work will involve the analysis of evidence and setting case strategies encompassing both technical and commercial considerations alongside obtaining and drafting pleadings, witness statements and conducting (telephone) negotiation of claims.

We are delighted to offer our employees a good remuneration package which includes private medical insurance amongst other benefits and a competitive bonus scheme. In addition to this we provide employees with an environment that promotes professional progression and development alongside a healthy work life balance.

To apply, please click here or contact Emma Colls by emailing

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Solicitor – Rollos Law LLP

Based in our Glenrothes office, our specialist Civil Law team seeks a solicitor with strong litigation experience. The team handles a varied case load specialising in legal representation and advice in areas of Civil Law and in the particular areas of Family law, Child law, Employment law and Mental Health law.

This position can offer responsibility for your own case load as well as assisting partners. We are keen to attract a dynamic solicitor with sound ability and a strong perspective. Excellent interpersonal skills are vital and the ability to handle matters with empathy and sensitivity is key.

This is a potentially rewarding opportunity for the right candidate who will benefit from working in a challenging but supportive environment.

Applications should be made in writing with accompanying CV and mailed to Heather Davidson, Practice Manager, Rollos Law LLP, Solicitors,67 Crossgate, Cupar, Fife, KY15 5AS.

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Associate – Clyde and Co

Department: Healthcare                             

Location: Edinburgh                                                    

Role:  Associate 12 Month Fixed Term Contract

The Firm

Our Edinburgh office has over 50 lawyers and fee earners across the core sectors of insurance, professional liability, healthcare, employment and property.

Clyde & Co's Scottish practice is widely regarded as having the nation's leading insurance disputes practice, offering property and casualty insurers with an unrivalled and comprehensive service, particularly in casualty, healthcare and professional lines. It also has market leading employment and advocacy practices. The firm was awarded Scottish Law firm of the Year in 2017 and International Law Firm of the Year in 2018.

The Healthcare team is ranked Band 1 in both Chambers and the Legal 500. We act in some of the highest profile litigation in Scotland and are at the cutting edge of evolving case law. Our clients include insurers, major multi-national companies and prominent UK organisations. We have a substantial historic claims practice – a growing area at the forefront of legal development and sensitive claims-handling practice.

The Team

Our professional liability and healthcare team supports and defends professionals across all disciplines. We provide dispute resolution support through mediation, arbitration and litigation. We also specialise in representing professionals before their regulators.

The Role

We are looking for a qualified solicitor NQ-5 years PQE to join our Healthcare department on a 12 Month Fixed Term Contract. The role will involve managing a mix caseload of Healthcare and Abuse claims. This is an excellent opportunity to join an expanding team within our multi-award winning firm. The role is based in Edinburgh and requires regular communication with clients nationally and internationally. We have a collaborative, supportive team working in a modern, flexible environment.

The successful candidate should preferably have experience in personal injury.  Previous experience in healthcare will be an advantage but is not essential. This is an opportunity to take a lead in a growing area where the law is developing and the work is challenging.

Please note that our PQE levels are a guide and all suitable candidates will be considered.

Essential skills & experience

  • You will be a highly determined individual able to adapt well within a demanding, fast-paced team.
  • You will have experience of personal injury litigation
  • You will enjoy being challenged by complex legal issues and expanding your knowledge.
  • You will be a confident and effective communicator.
  • You will be focussed on delivering a highly professional service to clients, including compliance with client SLAs and MI requirements.

Role competency requirements

Technical Excellence

  • Technical legal expertise: the knowledge of the law and ability to apply it
  • Research: the ability to conduct research effectively and apply it commercially
  • Managing legal processes: the ability to ensure all legal processes are followed efficiently and effectively

People and Team

  • Guiding individual performance and development: develops the skills of self and others
  • Teamwork and collaboration: working cooperatively and effectively with others
  • Leadership: creating high performing teams

Client Relationships and Business Development

  • Building business relationships: establishing, maintaining and using relationships to create and develop business opportunities
  • Commercial thinking: understanding the commercial drivers
  • Cross-selling and business development

Finance and Practice Management

  • Finance management and understanding of the business
  • Project management: ensuring projects are delivered
  • Knowledge sharing

 Personal Effectiveness

  • Communication
  • Clarity of thinking
  • Personal contribution

To apply please send your CV and covering letter including notice period and salary expectations to 

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Property Solicitor – Harper Macleod LLP, Inverness

Harper Macleod has an exciting opening for a property solicitor to join its Rural team, based in Inverness.

The successful candidate will work in a team that specialises in rural property transactions and acts for a wide variety of clients across a broad range of work - from crofting law to renewable energy projects and from agriculture farm purchases to some of the most significant community buyouts under the Scottish Government's landmark Land Reform legislation.

The modern Rural Economy is a major focus of Harper Macleod, which this year extended its presence in the north of Scotland by acquiring another law firm in Elgin, Moray and also helped to organise the inaugural Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Conference & Awards.

This position provides an opportunity to be part of the continued growth of the largest legal team in the Highlands, Islands and Moray, working from our Inverness office which is home to 25 lawyers.

Experience in rural property is not essential and the successful candidate will provide transactional and advisory support across a range of matters, working with Partner Calum MacLeod, who is one of only two Accredited Specialists in Crofting Law in Scotland.

You will gain exposure to commercial transactions in a rural context, and have the chance to contribute to the growth of an exciting practice in a fantastic part of Scotland in which to live and work.

Be part of Harper Macleod's success

Harper Macleod has been named Law Firm of the Year eight times and has delivered long-term growth in turnover and profitability.

The firm won Real Estate Team of the Year at the recent Law Awards of Scotland and we are passionate about providing a platform for our talented lawyers to develop their career as part of the ongoing success of the Harper Macleod business.

We offer a competitive salary and benefits package and the opportunity to develop your career, which will bring exciting challenges and opportunities for the successful candidate. Harper Macleod has a long track record in developing and investing in our people with many opportunities to benefit from our active CSR programme.

To apply please send a CV and current salary details to Rona Cargill

Harper Macleod LLP is committed to promoting equal opportunities and developing a diverse workforce.

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Personal Injury Solicitor – Harper Macleod LLP, Glasgow

Harper Macleod has an opening for a solicitor to join one of Scotland’s largest and leading insurance teams. We are recognised as such by both The Legal 500 and Chambers UK, and the team includes four Accredited Specialists in Personal Injury Law.

We provide legal advice on complex insurance, litigation and risk matters for corporate clients in every sector, including some of the UK’s largest private companies, as well as public sector organisations and the insurance industry.

We offer a complete service, incorporating both contentious and non-contentious experience, and provide extensive technical expertise in insurance law and risk management. We deal with either the pursuing or defending of all aspects of claims, including employers’ liability, public liability and road traffic claims.

In this role, you will be responsible for your own caseload which will include high-value complex cases and regular appearances throughout courts in Scotland. You will work with a variety of insurance companies, private individuals and companies in connection with litigated and non-litigated claims.

Be part of Harper Macleod's success 

We are a business that has been named Law Firm of the Year eight times and that has delivered long-term growth in turnover and profitability. We are passionate about providing a platform for our people to develop their careers as part of the ongoing success of the Harper Macleod business.

We offer a competitive salary and benefits package and the opportunity to develop your career, which will bring exciting challenges and opportunities for the successful candidate. Harper Macleod has a long track record in developing and investing in our people with many opportunities to benefit from our active CSR programme.

To apply please send your CV and current salary details to Rona Cargill, HR Director:

Harper Macleod LLP is committed to promoting equal opportunities and developing a diverse workforce.

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Civil Solicitor – The Glasgow Law Practice

The Glasgow Law Practice has a vacancy for a Civil solicitor to join our busy Baillieston office. 

The role will involve handling a mix of civil work with a focus on a Pursuer Personal Injury caseload. This role would particularly suit a solicitor able to carry out a range of civil work but applications from candidates whose background is solely Personal Injury will be considered. 


The firm handles a mix of private and legal aid work. 

All levels of experience will be considered and any successful candidate could expect to receive a highly competitive salary. 


This is an exciting time to join a successful but friendly firm with a significant footprint in the High Street legal market in Glasgow and surrounding areas. 

Excellent career prospects are available to the right person. 

Who would fit the role?


  • a solicitor looking to join a progressive, modern High Street firm with a significant existing client base and first class online presence.
  • a solicitor looking to move to work in the High Street and have responsibility for their own caseload and the autonomy that brings, dealing face to face with personal , non-corporate clients on a daily basis .
  • a solicitor with their own existing caseload looking for the security of a larger firm network. This would include existing sole practitioners.

Please apply in strictest confidence to Ross Yuill.

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Housing Solicitor – Shelter

£37,030 pa, depending on experience, plus excellent benefits

Fixed term contract until 31 October 2022

Edinburgh plus possibility of flexible working

Closing date: 30th January 2020 at 11.30pm.

Are you a housing solicitor who wants to grow their expertise? Perhaps, you have a wealth of experience and are looking for a role where you can fully use your expertise to support vulnerable clients? Want to assist in strategic litigation and build your skills in human rights law? We guarantee you’ll thrive at Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service. The leadership, the infrastructure, the strategy and the rewards, including flexible working and a good work life balance – everything is in place for a solicitor with a background in housing law to develop and achieve a great deal, particularly if, like us, you have a passion for the cause.

Scotland has some of the most progressive housing legislation in Europe, yet families are struggling daily with homelessness, bad housing conditions, soaring rents, discrimination and the threat of eviction. Accordingly, we’re striving for change — with individuals, in communities, across society – and leading the way to a safe home. We’re already doing some amazing work. But, in order to achieve our goal, we need critical thinking solicitors who are passionate about our cause to join us at this exciting time, do some amazing work and help us continue to take the lead in the interdisciplinary area of housing and child law.

About the role 

Day-to-day, you’ll provide legal advice and representation to families and young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Edinburgh. You’ll also be responsible for maintaining an active caseload, including litigation appropriate judicial review and emergency applications that enable homeless people or those with housing problems to enforce their existing rights. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to develop housing and homelessness law for families, children and young people and develop and deliver lawyer led training for front line third sector services. In short, you’ll get involved in some pioneering work that will make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

About you

Proactive and client-focused, you’re a dedicated social justice and human rights solicitor with post-qualification experience of housing litigation, including representing in court on behalf of homeless people or people in housing need. Indeed, you’re used to handling a range of housing cases (public and private sector) on issues including homelessness, security of tenure and possession proceedings. You also have sound knowledge of legal aid work, including legal representation and legal help and are looking for a role that comes with a manageable caseload that will give you a good work life balance.

As well as significant opportunities for progression, we offer a wide range of benefits, including 30 days of annual leave, enhanced family friendly policies, pension and interest free travel loans. Our employees also have access to a tenancy deposit loan, cycle to work scheme and an employee assistance programme. This particular role requires you to be based in Edinburgh two days a week, but there is the possibility to work from our Glasgow or Dundee hub for the rest of the week.

Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services. And we campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn to us for help.

To find out more about the role and the benefits of working for Shelter Scotland please visit our website. Apply to be part of our Housing Law Service team and be the change you want to see in society.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business. Shelter is committed to protecting the health, wellbeing and human rights of those we support, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. All our staff will be expected to observe professional standards of behaviour and conduct their work in line with our Safeguarding Policies.

At Shelter, we welcome and encourage applications from everyone regardless of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. We also encourage applications from people, who have been homeless or have been at risk of homelessness. We are facing diverse problems, so need diverse people to tackle them.

Apply here

Shelter does not accept unsolicited CVs from external recruitment agencies nor accept the fees associated with them.

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Trainee Solicitor – Jackson Boyd

We are presently seeking to recruit litigation trainee solicitors to join our Firm. As the successful candidate you will have the opportunity of working within each of our three core areas during the course of your traineeship.

  • Personal Injury - dealing with cases arising from road traffic accidents, public liability, accidents at work and clinical negligence.
  • Employment - acting for employers and employees in cases involving unfair dismissal, discrimination and redundancy among others.
  • Dispute Resolution – dealing with property disputes, contractual issues and landlord/tenant matters.

During your traineeship you will have your own caseload and you will also provide assistance to our solicitors with their high value and complex cases. You will meet with clients and take statements from witnesses. You will have the opportunity of shadowing colleagues at court and at tribunal. With the appropriate level of supervision and guidance there will be the opportunity for you to appear at court and tribunal.

At Jackson Boyd our focus is always on our clients. Therefore we are seeking applications from candidates who, in addition to holding the requisite legal qualifications, can also demonstrate practical experience in client care.

The traineeship will be based in our Glasgow office and will commence in September 2020. Salary will be in line with Law Society recommendations.

There may be opportunities for the successful candidates to join us as paralegals during the months leading up to the start of the traineeship.

If you are interested in applying for this role, please visit our Careers Page at and upload your CV and covering letter.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 10 January 2020 at 5pm.

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NQ/Associate in Corporate Real Estate – Eversheds Sutherland

Practice group/Global Operations team: Real Estate

Full time/Part time: Full time

Location: Edinburgh

About Eversheds Sutherland:

Eversheds Sutherland represents the combination of two firms with a shared culture and commitment to client service excellence. We are each known for our commercial awareness and industry knowledge and for providing innovative and tailored solution for every client.

As a full service law practice, we act for the public and private sector across the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the US providing legal advice to clients across its company commercial, human resources, litigation and dispute management, and real estate practices.

With 69 offices across 34 countries worldwide, we have become one of the largest law practices in the world and a great place to work and develop your career.

The Team

 We have one of the largest full service Real Estate teams of any global law practice and are consistently ranked in directories worldwide. We act for 62 of the FTSE 100, 58 of the Fortune 100 and 92 of the Fortune 200 and are also on the panels of 25 major international banks and several hundred global companies. Our landmark deals include the £1.2 billion acquisition and development financing of The Shard in London, securing a development agreement for Facebook’s new 250,000 square foot European headquarters on London’s Oxford Street, the $1.6 billion acquisition of the landmark skyscraper 1285 Avenue of the Americas in New York City and advising one of the world’s largest tech companies on its corporate office portfolio across EMEA and Asia Pacific.

The Role

We are recruiting an NQ/Associate (0 – 3 years PQE) to join our Real Estate team in Edinburgh.

The successful candidate will predominantly work for a key client within the Commercial Real Estate sector. You will be working with a team made up of senior and junior solicitors managing your own caseload, as well as supporting senior team members in their casework. The role involves dealing with a range of landlord and tenant and asset management transactions for significant clients, land acquisitions and disposals and supporting project work for real estate finance.

The role will require the successful applicant to have direct responsibility for all aspects of transactions and be expected to liaise directly with clients throughout the entire process. The role would therefore suit a candidate with excellent communications skills who is happy to take on responsibility of working with important clients within the real estate sector.

Skills and Experience: 

  • Excellent academic qualifications (minimum 2.1 at degree level)
  • 0-3 years' qualified with technical skills in real estate transactions, as well as landlord and tenant transactions
  • Ideally hold previous experience of dealing with a large public sector or institutional client
  • Team player
  • Bright, personable and confident Associate
  • Highly organised with strong attention to detail
  • Ability to manage own caseload from start to finish
  • Ability to build strong relationships (both internally and with clients)
  • Ability to think innovatively and to embrace technology and new ways of working
  • Client focused and a good communicator with a strong practical approach to your workload

We're a modern, progressive law firm. We think differently and we've built a culture where individual skills and personalities can shine through. At Eversheds Sutherland, we believe that innovation comes from a culture of genuine equality and diversity and we are happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments individuals may require in the recruitment process, or once in post.

In addition to the above, Eversheds Sutherland also require awareness of and full participation in the Firm’s commitment to equality and diversity, the environment and health and safety.

For more information or to Apply please click here

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Corporate Solicitor (NQ – 2 years PQE) – MBM Commercial LLP

MBM Commercial is a market leading provider of legal and commercial services to investors, entrepreneurs and high growth companies. We are an innovative and growing business and looking for the successful candidate to join our Corporate Group as a Solicitor.

We are the market leaders in advising on early stage investment deals in Scotland. As specialists in the entrepreneurial market, our Corporate Group have been involved in establishing several early stage venture capital funds and business angel syndicates throughout the UK.

As a member of our Corporate Group, you will be involved in providing the full range of corporate advice, with an emphasis on high growth businesses and investors. The role will bring an interesting and challenging workload, including acquisitions and disposals, equity investments, spin-out and start-up advice, shareholder agreements, corporate restructuring and investment funds. We also have an active US Transactions corporate practice and are regularly involved in inbound and outbound international deals and there will be the opportunity to be involved in such deals.

You will be working on Scottish and English deals and have the opportunity to build relationships with clients and contacts and develop your network. Our solicitors are immersed in the firm’s business development activities and are encouraged to take ownership of opportunities and run with them. You must be able to build long term relationships with clients and colleagues and be fully committed to developing yourself and providing the very best legal advice.

We are looking for someone with a confident and positive ‘can do’ attitude with excellent communication skills who is capable of running smaller corporate transactions and dealing with clients directly on day to day basis (with senior support always available to help you). On larger transactions you will also work as part of a team and have responsibility for particular key tasks within it.

To apply for this role, you should be newly qualified to 2 years PQE having worked within a corporate team.

We offer a competitive salary and benefits package for the role. This includes an annual bonus scheme, BUPA, commission for new client wins and flexi-time. To apply, please send a CV and current salary details to Linda Hutton at

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Appointment of Salaried and Fee-Paid Employment Judges – Employment Tribunals (Scotland)

Applications are invited to join the panel of Employment Judges in Scotland. There are 3 vacancies for salaried Employment Judges, two of which are likely to be based in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. In addition, there are 10 vacancies for fee-paid Employment Judges. Salaried and fee paid judges will normally be required to sit at a variety of other locations across Scotland, depending on the needs of the service.

For both salaried and fee paid posts it is intended that any further positions arising in the 18 month period following the appointment process will be filled from this competition.

Appointments are made by the Lord President of the Court of Session under regulation 8 of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013. Candidates must:

(a) be an advocate or solicitor admitted in Scotland of at least five years standing;

(b) satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition within the meaning of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 on a 5-year basis;

(c) be a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or solicitor of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland of at least five years standing; or

(d) be a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives of at least five years standing.

The Lord President seeks to appoint candidates who have judicial experience or experience of litigation and can demonstrate expertise in employment law or related fields.

If you wish an application pack, please contact:

Ms J Demir

The President’s Office, Employment Tribunals (Scotland)

Eagle Building, 215 Bothwell Street,

Glasgow, G2 7TS


Telephone 0141 2237122


The closing date for receipt of completed applications for these posts is 12 noon

on 6 January 2020.

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Commercial contract law conference 2020 | Law Society of Scotland | Thursday 23 January | Aberdeen

6 hours' verifiable CPD

Following our popular Glasgow event, we’re taking our Commercial Contract Law Conference to Aberdeen this January.

Whether you are looking to refresh your contract drafting skills or to hear about recent decisions and current developments, the conference will offer practical tips and updated guidance through best practice, case law updates and specialised insights.

Our speaker line-up includes:

  • Dr Kirsty Hood QC
  • Gillian Jamieson, Partner, Anderson Strathern
  • Peter Alderdice, Senior Associate, Shepherd and Wedderburn
  • Bryan Wilson, Partner, Brodies LLP
  • Allan Mackenzie, Principal Solicitor (Commercial), Aberdeenshire Council
  • Leigh Anderson, Senior Solicitor (Corporate and Commercial), Aberdeenshire Council
  • Valerie Allan, Partner, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Kenny Paton, Counsel, Dentons
  • Fiona Caldow, Managing Practice Development Lawyer, Dentons

Visit our event webpage to learn more and book your place.

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Scots Law 2020 advanced offer ends on Friday

CLT Scotland’s advanced offer for the first event in the Scots Law 2019 Exhibition/Conference Series ends on Wednesday.

The event will take place at the Glasgow Hilton on 9th & 10th March and all bookings received on or before Friday 20th December will attract an advanced offer price starting from £140 plus VAT – a saving of over 25 per cent.

Roy Spiers, CLT Scotland’s Director of Programmes said “Our advanced offer is again proving extremely popular within the legal community who really appreciate the opportunity to attend cost-effective quality training delivered by our team of expert speakers.”

The 10 individual conferences at the event will cover the subject areas of Conveyancing, Elderly Client, Contract Law, Personal Injury, Family Law, Licensing, Commercial Property, Employment Law, Criminal and Corporate Law.

Delegates can register by booking here, emailing or calling 0141 225 6700.

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Sports law seminar| Law Society of Scotland | Wednesday 22 January | Edinburgh

4 hours' verifiable CPD

Get expert guidance on: drafting and negotiating contracts; protecting your client’s intellectual property issues; reputation management; telecommunications and finance.

Whether you represent individual players, agents, organisations or regulatory association this seminar equips you on how to best advise your clients on complex and over-lapping matters in the sports sector.

Our speaker line-up includes:

  • Laura McCallum, Head of Football Administration & Legal Affairs, Dundee United
  • Megan Briggs, Associate, Burness Paull LLP
  • Bruce Caldow, Partner - Head of Sports Team, Harper Macleod LLP
  • Stephen Farrell, Senior Associate, Burness Paull LLP
  • Roddy Cairns, Senior Solicitor, Burness Paull LLP
  • Tom Thomas, Partner, Harper Macleod LLP

Visit our event webpage to learn more and book your place.

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