Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/ Scottish Law Agents Society - News http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news en-gb Copyright 2017 Scottish Law Agents Society. All Rights Reserved. Scottish Law Agents Society http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk <![CDATA[SLAS Christmas Party with Lord Gill]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-lord-gill /node/3005 /node/3005#comments As now widely advertised, the SLAS Christmas Party will feature, as well as the second edition of the law agent's home companion with choral signing by the Glasgow Laulau choir singing acapella, a talk by Sheriff Alf Vannet and classic songs by Kathleen Burgess- a short delivery by Lord Gill on the subject of the separation of powers. By coincidence, that is the very topic of a case currently being argued before a full panel of 11 Justices at the Supreme Court at Westminster. We cannot take credit for having arranged that juxtaposition of events, or at least some of them. This will be held at the Royal Faculty in Glasgow from 5:30pm on Thursday 15th December 2016 and, if you wish to attend then please contact the Secretary, Michael Sheridan by email at secretary@slas.co.uk or by telephone on 0141 332 3536. As the function includes hospitality, we require to close for bookings at 5pm on Monday 12th December 2016. Time is short and you should book your attendance now.

 

This event was duly delivered and is currently under construction as a prospective podcast.

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General Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:52:38 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas party 2016]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-2016 /node/3004 /node/3004#comments The Christmas party this year will be something completely different. We have so much talent on show that we are reluctant to let it all fade into memory. Instead we will present the programme as podcast which will be preserved for future presentation on our website and possibly beyond. The programme is shown in the attached brochure and, while this includes a contribution by the former Lord President, Lord Gill who is currently serving on the Supreme Court panel at Westminster, Lord Gill’s contribution will not be included in the podcast and the only opportunity to hear this will be by joining the live, studio audience at the Royal Faculty in Glasgow.

We had asked Lord Gill to address the question of the separation of the powers within the constitution before that issue was raised in the context of Brexit before the Supreme Court and, as a result, we are particularly interested to hear the comments of Lord Gill.

Members and guests attending the event will be invited to contribute to the podcastable outcome by responding, for example, to applause etc., prompts and by generally assisting the production of the programme. We shall convene a short rehearsal before the programme begins.

Sheriff Alf Vannet has delighted us in the past with his lively insight into the legal process and we have asked him on this occasion to address the long standing question as to who has the harder task and the greater intellect, the judge or the advocate – not that that is a guarantee as to where Sheriff Vannet’s remarks may take us on the night.

However, it is Christmas after all and we will include some classic Christmas and other music from the Finnish Glasgow Laulu Choir singing a cappella and from Kathleen Burgess who was trained at the now Royal Conservatoire of Glasgow.

The ticket price includes a finger buffet and refreshments and we hope that the Society’s membership will support the excellent value of this bold endeavour in large numbers.

Those interested in attending the event should have their applications with the Secretary by 5pm on Monday 12th December 2016.

This event was duly delivered and is currently under construction as a prospective podcast.

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Member News Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:30:11 +0000
<![CDATA[Another Scam]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/another-scam /node/3001 /node/3001#comments A member tells me today that he was due to settle a conveyancing sale transaction but the money did not arrive. It transpired that the money had been sent to received by and passed on from the wrong bank. It further transpired that, before settlement, an email had been issued by an interloper, bearing to have been sent by the selling solicitor and instructing the purchasing solicitor to direct the funds to a particular (wrong) bank. I understand that the interloping email was subject to spelling and grammatical deficiencies. Perhaps the lesson is that we cannot trust anything communicated by email and where financial transmissions are involved we always have to obtain confirmation. In this particular case, however, i gather that the interloping email included a apparent mandate by the selling client, set out on headed note paper.

Secretary

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General Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:25:42 +0100
<![CDATA[SLAS AGM calling]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-agm-calling /node/3000 /node/3000#comments This is to remind members that the AGM takes place at 5:30pm on Thursday 16th June 2016 at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow. If you propose to attend this meeting please telephone the Secretary beforehand 0141 332 3536 so that appropriate hospitality can be arranged.

Secretary 

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Press Releases Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:20:21 +0100
<![CDATA[Scottish Law Agents Society extended meeting in the Royal Hotel, Oban ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/scottish-law-agents-society-extended-meeting-royal-hotel-oban /node/2996 /node/2996#comments SCOTTISH LAW AGENTS' SOCIETY Scottish Law Agents Society - Royal Hotel, Oban 18th February 2016 Agenda for Extended Meeting – from 10.30 AM

1. The regulation of solicitors. (Appendix A)*

Is the regulation of solicitors by a regulatory committee in which solicitors are excluded from the majority and from the chair and which is subject to the oversight of Scottish ministers consistent with the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers or do these provisions enable parliament and the executive to have excessive control of the legal profession as part of the judicial function of the constitution?

2. Land Registration Problems. (Appendix B)*

Has the Keeper replaced the objective of the registration of landownership with the objective of the creation of a cadastral map of Scotland and, if so, does this prevent the registration of heritable rights and what is the legal basis for doing so.

3. Alternative Business Structures. (Appendix C)*

We are still in the strange position that the Scottish Parliament authorised the non solicitor ownership of legal practices about five years ago in the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. At that time the change was driven mainly by a majority of the large Scottish firms, the policy of some of whom at least appeared to be driven by their own balance sheet considerations. The proposals have been stymied from the time being because the powers that be have been unable to promulgate appropriate regulations to meet legal requirements, as we predicted would be the case from the outset. New legislation is now planned to obviate these difficulties – on the basis that, if the law doesn’t work for us then we just write a new law.

4. Virtual SLAS Council. (Appendix D)*

A mechanism for the solicitors’ profession to consider and respond promptly to issues arising. When even litigation can be conducted on the internet a Society which cannot conduct business online may be subject to a fatal disadvantage.

*For full details see attached PDFs

Practicing sSolicitors and in particular solicitors in the Highlands and Islands area are invited to join the above meeting on giving at least 48 hours of their intention to do so. If you do not attend the meeting but have views or information relevant to the above topics or any suggestions as to what matters should properly be addressed by a solicitors’ representative body then please advise by email to secretary@slas.co.uk

M Sheridan,

Secretary

 

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General Wed, 03 Feb 2016 15:29:53 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas Party 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-christmas-party-2015 /node/2991 /node/2991#comments SLAS Christmas Party 2015

Glasgow Laulu Choir

Members are invited to join the SLAS Christmas party at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow from 5.30pm on Thursday 17th December 2015. This is a chance to meet your colleagues in the relaxed atmosphere of the Faculty with suitable refreshments.

We shall be entertained by a presentation of classical Christmas songs by the Glasgow Laulu Choir singing a cappella.

There is no charge for admission but numbers are limted and it is essential that you register your attendance with the secretary by Friday 11th December 2015, email secretary@slas.co.uk

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General Mon, 07 Dec 2015 11:18:33 +0000
<![CDATA[Michael Scanlan]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/michael-scanlan /node/2990 /node/2990#comments It is with great regret that we announce the death of our former President, Michael Scanlan, who passed away this afternoon 20th October 2015. Michael died peacefully in hosptal after an illness and his wife, Margaret, was with him at the time.

 

MS

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General Tue, 20 Oct 2015 16:17:33 +0100
<![CDATA[Report Fraud and Internet Crime]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/report-fraud-and-internet-crime /node/2989 /node/2989#comments The Law Society of Scotland is interested in being made aware of email scams (and other similar issues) which are sent to members. Contact fincomp@lawscot.org.uk

 

This maintains their awareness of the issues affecting members and enables LSS to issue timely alerts where necessary.

 

However the firms which receive these can also report these directly on the Action Fraud website;

 

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

 

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud reporting centre run by the National Fraud Authority with support from partners such as the City of London Police. Email scams can be quickly reported by clicking on the Report Scams and Viruses button on the link provided and then sending the suspicious email to the City of London Police email address provided on the website.   

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General Tue, 20 Oct 2015 14:51:33 +0100
<![CDATA[STOP PRESS!!! - Succession (Scotland) Bill]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/stop-press-succession-scotland-bill /node/2988 /node/2988#comments The draft Bill now before Parliament proposes extensive changes to the law of succession in Scotland.  Many exisitng wills may be affected.  The Scottish Government has called for evidence as to the terms of this Bill to be submitted by 7th August 2015.  Practising solicitors are possibly in the best position to give relevant evidence.  All SLAS members are invited to study the terms of the Bill and to make their views known by email to secretary@slas.co.uk.  We will meet at 4pm in Glasgow on 30th July 2015 at the SLAS Offices at 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow when we will consider the members' views an prepare a joint submssion of evdience.  Please contact the secretary beforehand if you wish to attend this meeting.  The tems of this Bill can be found on the Scottish Parliament website or thorugh the link on our own website at www.slas.com.  

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General Mon, 06 Jul 2015 12:42:43 +0100
<![CDATA[Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund Golf Outing Friday 21st August 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/scottish-solicitors-benevolent-fund-golf-outing-friday-21st-august-2015 /node/2987 /node/2987#comments The Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund Golf Outing moves across the Forth to Leven Links this year which is once again kindly sponsored by the First Scottish Group and Legal Post (Scotland) Limited.

The Leven Golfing Society is the eleventh oldest golf club in the world dating back to 1820 ,is widely regarded as one of the best and purest links courses in Scotland and is an Open Championship Qualifying Venue. Leven Links is also the venue for two of the most prestigious amateur events on the Scottish golfing calendar, the Scottish Champion of Champions which is traditionally the season opener for the top amateur golfers in Scotland and the Standard Life Amateur Champion Gold Medal which is recognised as the oldest amateur stroke play competition in the world. Both past champions boards are displayed proudly in the Leven Golfing Society Club House, many of the names being instantly recognisable amongst whom Scotland’s own Andrew Coltart featured in 1989 followed by his brother-in-law Lee Westwood in 1993. Now they have the privilege of hosting us !  Hopefully last year’s winners from Register House will have been too pre-occupied with Advance Notices, Plans Reports and their own version of the One Shot Rule to be bothered with honing their golfing skills to retain the trophy yet again !!

 Leven Links should provide quite a challenge ,the signature hole is the 18th which is a real test of golf for golfers of all standards. In a Bunkered magazine poll it was recently voted the second hardest finishing hole in Scotland behind the 18th at Carnoustie and is an absolute nightmare if played into the wind, which is almost guaranteed!!!

For those up to the challenge, teams of four drawn from firms, faculties and indeed anyone who has even the remotest link with the profession are welcome to come along and put themselves to another great test of links golf. Further information available on the www.levengolfingsociety.co.uk website to whet the appetite. Entry forms for teams of four and further information is available from Ross D Ireland, Williamson & Henry LLP, 13 St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright (LP-1 Kirkcudbright, telephone 01557 330692 and email rireland@williamsonandhenry.co.uk). Numbers are restricted so please gather your teams together, get your entry in now and get it in your diary. Book early to avoid disappointment!  Last date for entries is Friday 24th July. 

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General Tue, 16 Jun 2015 09:44:21 +0100
<![CDATA[Court User Satisfaction Survey 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/court-user-satisfaction-survey-2015 /node/2985 /node/2985#comments We attach below a letter from 3rd of June 2015 which we have recieved from the Scottish Courts Service and to which members' attention is respectfully drawn.

Michael Sheridan

 

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Member News Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:25:46 +0100
<![CDATA[March '15 Gazette]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/march-15-gazette /node/2984 /node/2984#comments Members need not worry about the absence of the March Gazette.  The content has now been assembled and this edition should arrive by early April.

MS

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General Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:20:32 +0100
<![CDATA[Revenue Scotland and LBTT - Urgent News]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/revenue-scotland-and-lbtt-urgent-news /node/2983 /node/2983#comments Those not already doing so, should be keeping a close eye on the Revenue Scotland website (www.revenue.scot) for updates on arrangements for the introduction of the Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) at the beginning of next month.  As of 1st April 2015 the purchase of land or buildings, for either domestic or commercial use, and the registration of certain long leases will no longer be subject to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).  Any conveyance of property with a value in excess of the prescribed limit (£40,000.00?) registered on or after 1st April 2015 will require to be reported to Revenue Scotland and may be liable for LBTT.  Revenue Scotland have said that guidance and forms (both paper and electronic), replacing the SDLT forms and certificates, will be available on or after 24th March 2015 and that the online portal (through which practitioners must register) will be unavailable between 23rd and 24th March.  A recent tweet by the Law Society of Scotland (@Lawscot) advises that the portal will in fact be unavailable form 5pm 20th March 2014 and recommends that those who have not done so should sign up immediately.  Further details and links available at

www.lawscot.org.uk/news/2015/02/online-lbtt-sign-up-now-live/

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General Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:58:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Agenda for meeting with SLAS at Salutation Hotel Perth from 10.30 am 19th February 2015 ]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/agenda-meeting-slas-salutation-hotel-perth-1030-am-19th-february-2015 /node/2982 /node/2982#comments 1. Borrowers’ Liability for Mortgage Lenders’ expenses – letter to Law Society of England and Wales and attachments

2.  Regulation of solicitors

(a)          regulation of entities

(b)          Principal or Rule Based Regulation

3. Collegiate Identity for High Street Solicitors.

Is the Law Society of Scotland with its support for ABS and constitutional inability to regulate the profession any longer the appropriate commercial identity for High Street solicitors ?

4. The Bribery Act – payment to third parties for attraction of Business

5. Virtual SLAS Council  -  A mechanism for the solicitors’ profession to consider and respond promptly to issues arising.

6. Land Registration Problems -  A central repository to identify and record problems which need to be addressed.

7. AOCB

 NB Please register your interest in joining the meeting beforehand with secretary@slas.co.uk

 

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General Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:38:18 +0000
<![CDATA[Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) at 10th February 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-and-buildings-transaction-tax-lbtt-10th-february-2015 /node/2981 /node/2981#comments From April this year, the month after next, we shall require to complete a Land and Buildings Transactions Tax return in order to complete an application for registration of title. The current HMRC Guidance  for this return currently advises that “Guidance is currently in development and will be available in early 2015, well  in advance of LBTT coming into effect.”

We recollect that when SDLT replaced Stamp Duty (in 2004?) a similar situation  arose and there were no forms available for SDLT submissions when the new rules came into force and no registrations of title could proceed throughout Scotland for a period of some weeks, during which the Land Register lost contact with the reality of landownership.  This of course was the very evil that inspired generation of Scottish solicitors to fear the charge of “failing to update the Registers” and the professional discipline that followed  thereon.  No issue was raised, however, when the inefficiency of the revenue authorities led to the wholesale breakdown of the system of land registration and is on the brink of doing so again.

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General Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:46:49 +0000
<![CDATA[6th February - Rejected Application]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/6th-february-rejected-application /node/2977 /node/2977#comments This application was submitted to Registers of Scotland on 30th January together with an inventory, a dispositionand an SDLT5. Very, very promptly, one week later, we receive an e-mail advising us of rejection on the grounds that no SDLT5 had been included. The sender very clearly recollects having assembled the papers, made a full copy and having dispatched the papers, including the SDLT5. This would still be well within the protected period, but, for technical reasons, the selling agent did not agree to an Advance Notice but instead on granting a classic Letter of Obligation.

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General Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:40:49 +0000
<![CDATA[Further Land Registration Problems]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/further-land-registration-problems /node/2976 /node/2976#comments Some further difficulties have now been reported to us. We are publishing these not in any way to criticise the registration process but simply to alert members to the difficulties arising and to help avoid these difficulties in the future.

It has been reported that, in one case, where a member sought to register a Discharge of a Standard Security and a new Standard Security, although he has now received the return of the new Standard Security bearing to have been registered, the electronic title sheet shows the property as having no charges. Does this mean that the owner can now sell the property as charge free and, if so, who would bear the damages to the lender?

MS

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General Fri, 09 Jan 2015 12:03:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Office Based Diploma]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/office-based-diploma /node/2975 /node/2975#comments We issued a news item with our subscription notices this year in connection with a proposed Office Based Diploma. In that news item, we suggested referral to this website for more details of this proposal. Unfortunately, these details are still in construction and members should keep an eye on this website for further details in due course.

Secretary

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General Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:34:44 +0000
<![CDATA[Land Registration problems - continued]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-registration-problems-continued /node/2974 /node/2974#comments We understand that many members are having problems with the new land registration system. Perhaps, if members would identify those problems on this page, it would assist the membership in general to cope with these problems. We recently had an application for the registration of a Standard Security rejected because we had not identified the company number of the lender. We were not previously aware of any requirement for that information. But we know now and so do the readers of this page. MS

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General Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:13:35 +0000
<![CDATA[Land Registration Problems]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-registration-problems /node/2973 /node/2973#comments At a meeting in Glasgow on 17th December a number of solicitors identified problems with the new land registration regime. These problems included the non—availability of the online system,   wrong information contained in advance notices and difficulties in adjusting with other solicitors the terms of applications for advance notices.  It is clear that there are some teething troubles with the new system. In order to assist the Keeper to resolve ongoing problems we suggest that any members having such problems should notify ourselves by e-mail to secretary@slas.co.uk so that we can give the Keeper a full picture of difficulties arising.

Secretary

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General Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:45:57 +0000
<![CDATA[Registration of Title - Final Reminder of Switchover - Get With It]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/registration-title-final-reminder-switchover-get-it /node/2972 /node/2972#comments RoS URGES LAND REGISTRATION APPLICANTS TO PREPARE FOR DEADLINE

IN ADVANCE OF SWITCHOVER

Final arrangements for the switchover to the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 on Monday, 8 December are now in place. Registers of Scotland (RoS) has issued a reminder to those affected by the imminent change in land registration that the last day for receipt of 1979 Act applications is Wednesday, 3 December.

The move to the 2012 Act is the biggest change to property registration for a generation and, to accommodate the move to the new IT systems required for the 2012 Act, the Land Register and General Register of Sasines will have to be closed on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 December. As a result, related IT services will also be unavailable on these dates - Registers Direct, eForms and ARTL. Registers of Scotland customer service centres and offices will be open as usual.

All applications made under the 1979 Act must be received by us by 16.30 on Wednesday 3 December. Any applications received after this date will be returned so that they can be completed on the 2012 Act application form and re-submitted. There will be no rejection fee charged.

An appointment system has also been set up to manage personal presentments from Monday 24 November until 4.30pm Wednesday 3 December and more information on booking an appointment at Meadowbank House or Hanover House is available on the dedicated 2012 Act website www.ros.gov.uk/2012act/latestnews .

Further information on the practical arrangements for the designated day is available at http://www.ros.gov.uk/2012act/practical_arrangements_for_designated_day.html

A recent research study conducted by RoS with businesses, organisations and advisors involved in land and property revealed that, of those who participated, 80% have started to make preparations for the Designated Day.

For a full timeline on key dates in the run up to the Designated Day and regular updates about the 2012 Act log on to www.ros.gov.uk/2012act/ and follow the RoS corporate Facebook (www.facebook.com/registersofscotland) and Twitter (@RegistersofScot) channels. Links to changes and updates will also be added to the RoS communications group on LinkedIn.

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General Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:22:21 +0000
<![CDATA[Council Meeting (plus 2 nights dinner b&b for £79!) February 2015]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/council-meeting-plus-2-nights-dinner-bb-£79-february-2015 /node/2971 /node/2971#comments Your Council has decided to treat itself to this generous offer from the Salutation Hotel in Perth on 18th and 19th February 2015 when we shall convene the monthly council meeting from 10am on the 19th at the hotel. Members of the Society who are not council members are invited to join this council meeting.

I spoke to the Hotel on 30th October and was advised that there is currently accommodation available for this special offer but that there was no guarantee how long that would be the case and the advice was to book as quickly as possible. Spouses/partners etc. are invited to join the occasion.

To do so you phone the hotel on 01738 630 066 and ask for Lorraine and you also email me at secretary@slas.co.uk to let me know that you are joining us.

MS

For more information click here:

http://www.scottishlawagents.org/events/two-nights-dinner-bed-and-breakfast-%C2%A379

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General Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:40:56 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS and LSS - a tale of two societies]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-and-lss-tale-two-societies /node/2970 /node/2970#comments During the past few months I have produced a number of articles in the Law Section of the Scotsman under the barrier of the Scottish Law Agents Society.  It is clear from the correspondence received that most people have no idea who or what is the Scottish Law Agents Society.  I have therefore arranged to publish in the Scotsman on Monday coming 3rd November 2014 a short article explaining the relationship between the Scottish Law Agent Society and the Law Society of Scotland.  It would obviously be excellent for the SLAS profile if Scotsman sales were go through the roof on Monday. This would enormously increase the Society's potential for informing legal thinking in Scotland. So get out there on Monday and buy a Scotsman and another one for your friend. Also, I would very much welcome any constructive comment upon the explanation offered in this article.

Michael Sheridan

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General Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:55:51 +0000
<![CDATA[Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/land-registration-scotland-act-2012 /node/2967 /node/2967#comments Whether or not you are prepared for the changes that will take place in registration of titles from 3 December this year onwards, it will still come a s a huge cultural shock when then existing system effectively disappears for two days and then reappears as something completely different. We reproduce below part of an article by Ken Swinton from our Gazette of March 2012.

We are still hoping for effective guidance from the Law Society and professional indemnity insurers.  It seems that the new system -advance notices instead of letters of obligation - is optional but that is probably a mirage.  It is perhaps unlikely that the professional indemnity will cover letters of obligation when the option of advance notice is available. That leaves open, however, the question of undertakings for the production of discharges etc. post settlement.   We gather that any such undertakings are likely to be “on behalf  of” clients.  One difficulty is that we are likely to be concluding missives in traditional terms which do not allow for the new arrangements. Here is what Ken had to say two and a half years ago.

MS

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General Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:28:39 +0000
<![CDATA[URGENT - LSS Consultation of Regulation of Solicitors]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/urgent-lss-consultation-regulation-solicitors /node/2966 /node/2966#comments Consultation on Regulation of Solicitors

The following article was intended to reach the membership in time for members’ responses to be returned in time for the closure of the consultation on 10 October 2014.  However, due to a delay in production we have not managed to deliver this edition in time for you to respond to the above consultation before it closes on that date. We have therefore (a) requested an extension of the consultation period and (b) published the above article ion the Society’s website on 6 October with a request for early responses

MS

 

A consultation was published by the Regulatory Committee of the Law Society on 23rd July 2014 under the above title for response by 10 October 2014. No solicitor from whom I have inquired was aware of or had read the consultation which outlines proposals to regulate entities as well as individual solicitors and to increase the costs of regulation accordingly.

While this consultation bears to have been drawn up within the profession and issued by the Law Society of Scotland, it has to be considered how far that is the case. The Law Society of Scotland is a professional body for solicitors and the Regulatory Committee is a statutory body in which solicitors are excluded from the majority and from the chair.

This objection may seem puerile but the point is that the Regulatory Committee may well be entitled to create a regulatory system but perhaps not in the name or on behalf of Scottish solicitors.

While the simple question which has been asked relates to the regulation of Scottish solicitors, the actual proposals clearly contemplate the regulation of a much wider category of personnel including paralegals and ABS and employees of ABS etc.

The objectives are described as (a) the promotion of the interests of the consumers and of the public, (b)  the promotion of access to justice and competition in the provision of legal service and (c) the promotion and maintenance of  adherence to the professional principles (defined).  At least there is no problem of conflict with the interests of the legal profession because, in fact, there is no mention of the interests of the legal profession.

The paper claims that entities are already recognised in connection with (a) the Master Policy, (b) the rolling programme of compliance inspection, (c) the SLCC action upon service complaints against firms and (d) the rules governing incorporated practices and LLPs but points out that the traditional partnership model is not regulated as an entity.

It is clear why the practice of law should be regulated but not clear why the business arrangement of going in to partnership should be regulated.

The paper describes lawyers worldwide as having moved on from sole practices to legal entities.  In Australia, there is no restriction upon lawyer and non lawyer ownership of legal practices and these are regulated as entities.  That, however, is very much not the case in Scotland and this project therefore appears to seek to promote ABS in to Scotland, to which our Society remains firmly opposed.

There have been partnerships in Scotland for many years without any apparent requirement for entity regulation.

In England, under the Legal Services Act 2007, both individuals and entities are regulated as is the case with chartered accountants and surveyors. They have ABS and we do not.

From the figures presented, the costs of regulating entities as well as practices will result in approximately 22% increase of costs for sole practitioners and either marginal increases or marginal savings for larger businesses.

Council has considered the consultation and proposes the response outlined below. We are looking for input from members for confirmation that this response reasonably represents the views of the membership and also to develop the terms of this response.

Slas Response to Consultation

(a) To propose the extension of the consultation period by a further three months. Considering that the consultation was issued in late July, during the high holiday period and was distracted by the Commonwealth Game ,and by the most successful Edinburgh Festival ever and then by the melt down of the referendum campaigns and, prospectively by the outcome of the most important political issue to affect Scotland in centuries, it is not surprising that many, if not most, solicitors have not addressed the consultation.  Without seeking to condone professional apathy it has to be borne in mind that the consultation suggests fundamental changes in the nature of professional regulation and the omission of proper consultation at this stage, while it makes life easier for those who seek to promote change, it probably stores up problems for the future if many practitioners are to feel that the process has not been inclusive.

(b)    To object to the attribution to the Law Society of a regulatory scheme which has been devised effectively outwith the profession by the Regulatory Committee from which solicitors are excluded from the chair and from the majority.

(c)  To reject the proposed regulation of entities as being inappropriate because it involves the regulation of non-solicitors which is not an activity in which the Law Society or the profession of solicitors should be involved and which may be ultra vires in relation to the current constitution.

(d)     To object to the proposed burdening of sole practitioners with the cost and administration of the regulation of entities when they clearly are not entities themselves.

(e)      To object to the recognition, expressed or implied, of the operation of ABS when these have not been authorised by regulations and when the reasons for the creation of ABS have now been overtaken by the flight from Scotland of the ownership and control of the firms for whom ABS were devised and when their authorisation is likely to further dilute the Scottish identity of the profession in Scotland. The membership of Slas remains opposed to the implementation of ABS,

inter alia,  on grounds of

i.      Inconsistency with professional independence

ii.      The adverse consequences of deregulation in other sectors eg banking

iii.      Consumer detriment in threats to Guarantee Fund and Master policy

iv.      Loss of solicitor control of legal practices

(f) The proposed scheme raises issues which require further consideration in relation to the constitutional contention that the solicitors’ profession is separate from and independent of the legislature which, in this case includes a statutory body such as the Regulatory Committee.  There is no challenge to the statutory competence of the Regulatory Committee to create regulations but it is queried whether these can be characterised as the product of the Law Society which is the professional body for the Solicitors’ profession when they have been issued by perhaps the only public body from which solicitors are excluded from the majority and from the chair. Solicitors are officers of the court and, as such, in terms of the constitutional separation of powers, fall within the judiciary rather than the legislature. This could be relevant if solicitors wished to challenge such regulations but found themselves seeking to challenge their own regulations when, in fact, the regulations had been imposed effectively  from outwith the profession.

Finally, some correspondence which we have received is set out below.

MS

Council Members,

I have now had a closer look at the consultation papers and find that there are two short sets of papers, one entitled Entity Regulation and Charging which simply sets out the proposal to regulate firms etc as well as individual solicitors and to charge for doing so and the other entitled Principle and Outcomes Focused Regulation (POFR) which proposes to replace the lengthy rule book with a short statement of principles but then to add on a much longer book of guidance, to flesh out these principles.

The other two sets of papers are much lengthier. One is a report from the SRA in England describing in 83 scintillating pages complete with pie charts and the like, describing the joys of POFR, as we have all come to know it. The second is a take on the SRA paper by the Nova Scotia Bar in another snappy 70 odd pages. I am certain we would find interesting and helpful material in these reports but, in the time available, I do not think that this can be taken on.

(Name and Address Suplied)

Council Members,

I have looked at the POFR section and make the following comments:-

There was considerable resistance when these were introduces in England & Wales, especially  from small and medium sized firms.  (No surprise there, then.)

Advantages:-               Increased flexibility and consistency; greater public understanding and confidence;  is more client focussed.

 

Disadvantages:-          Lack of absolute certainty; increased burden, especially for smaller practices; may not be that different to the present rules based approach.

 

Independent view from the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society:- is consumer driven;  is an extensive code of conduct being replaced by 10 mandatory principles; form filling reduced by freedom to provide strong quality of service; allows solicitors to meet their objectives while allowing regulator to focus on fair and fair regulation;  comprehensive decision making guides will be produced, which will lead to fairness, transparency & consistency; will encourage creativity. 

(Personally I think the last two contradict each other.) 

NSBS then asked if POFR worked in the public interest and responded as follows:- requires an intelligent authorisation proceed so that only fully authorised firms/individuals deemed fit; requires enhanced supervision of firms to address public interest; requires enforcement to deal with those who do not comply; requires risk criteria to enable regulator to focus on serious risks;  provides fair means for public complaints & early meaningful resolution;  enhances access to justice; enhances access to justice outside the traditional law firm structure.                                                                                                 

(Loud klaxon at this point.)

Neither LSS and Rg. Committee has a fixed view at the moment. Key questions:- should practice rules and guidance the correct approach or should we be moving to a model based on principles and outcomes? 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two?

Would POFR help or hinder efforts to protect the interests of consumer and the wider public? 

Does POFR provide fairer base for the regulation of solicitors and legal firms? 

What lessons can be learned from the regulation of other professions and in other legal jurisdictions?

(Name and Address Supplied)

 

====================================

Dear Colleagues,

We presently have rule based regulation so we have a fair idea of what the rules are. In some cases such as the provisions on conflict of interest which is really a series of exceptions.

If we move to principles based regulation we don’t know quite what the rules are and guidance is guidance until retrospectively conduct is deemed to contravene a principle. The FCA keeps getting firms at the moment on breaching the principle of treating customers fairly without bothering to charge the firm with the breach of any detailed rule. I am sure we would face the same.

So arguably the guidance is in fact an enhanced series of rules and even then can be extended without warning. Makes the regulator’s job much easier and ours less certain.

The only questions I think we need to ask around entity regulation are:-

  1. Will it be more expensive/cheaper/ the same?
  2. Will it involve more or less paperwork?
  3.  

(Name and address Supplied)

Dear Sir,

It is pretty clear that small businesses with their more limited resources will be called upon to bear a disproportionate share of the costs of the new style of regulation. That would be understandable if it were Law Society policy to move towards a profession of large firms and to phase out the smaller entities. It seems unlikely, however, that the private sector of the profession would espouse such a policy, given that the overwhelming majority of Scottish legal firms are small businesses. Also, the UK Government has clearly recognised the value and importance of the role of small businesses in the economic recovery and took the banks to task earlier this year for imposing lending arrangements which were discriminatory towards small businesses (Lord Young reported in the Times 28 January 2014.) The new style of regulation appears to be similarly discriminatory towards small firms.

However the reality is that many, if not most,  of the large and many of the middle sized firms have now emigrated to non-Scottish ownership and may welcome a system which harmonises with the system south of the border.

Moreover the  inhouse sector accounts for one third of the number of Scottish solicitors and the model proposed by the Regulatory Committee is likely to win favour with them as it offers a significant reduction in fees. By contrast the model penalises the sole practitioner the most, in real as well as relative terms and unless a fresh business model can be devised (perhaps comparable to that of the Faculty of Advocates system) it seems that the proposed change will be one more nail in the coffin of the law agent. 

(Name and address supplied)

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General Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:01:54 +0100
<![CDATA[Legal Aid for civil Contact Actions]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/legal-aid-civil-contact-actions /node/2965 /node/2965#comments We understand that the Scottish Legal Aid Board is considering making changes to the requirements for legal aid for civil contact actions.  We present the current proposals so that practitioners have the opportunity to consider these and make their own suggestions. This document clearly addresses the very practical issues which arise in connection with these difficult actions. Of particular importance is the issue as to the appropriateness of public funding in particular cases. We understanding that there is no such funding for these cases in England and Wales, except in very limited cases. We suggest that you make your suggestions, comments etc. via Slas by email to secretary@slas.co.uk so that views can be amalgamated and perhaps strengthened.

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APPLICATIONS FOR CIVIL LEGAL AID FOR CONTACT PROCEEDINGS

1.CURRENT ASSESSMENT OF CONTACT APPLICATIONS

The Board has detailed guidance in its Civil Legal Assistance Handbook available on the Board’s website at www.slab.org.uk about the approach taken to the assessment of various categories of civil legal aid applications.  The guidance contains general information about applications involving an order relating to parental responsibilities and parental rights. 

All applications must address the attempts made to try to resolve the dispute.  The guidance includes a requirement that detailed information should be provided to show why negotiations have failed, including the provision of copies of any relevant correspondence which may disclose attempts made to resolve matters without the need for litigation.  The guidance for contact orders indicates that we need to be supplied with details about any reasons given by the opponent for withholding contact and details of all attempts made to settle the dispute by agreement, including the provision of documentation to support these attempts.

The guidance has remained unchanged for over 12 years with the exception of the inclusion of the requirement that we be provided with copies of correspondence showing attempts made to settle matters without resorting to litigation.  This aspect was inserted into the guidance following the review of the reasonableness guidance in May 2010.  

Prior to May 2010, basic information was usually supplied in response to questions about the attempts made to settle matters.  This information often comprised one or two word answers such as “negotiations” or “negotiations failed”.  To address the inadequacy of these responses the requirement to provide additional information was inserted in the guidance.  It is however far from routine for such documentation to be supplied with an application for civil legal aid to pursue or defend a contact action.  It is, in reality, not unknown for solicitors submitting legal aid applications to react with surprise, and sometimes negatively, when requested to provide this documentation. 

This is less than satisfactory especially as a key consideration prior to making civil legal aid available is that all possible attempts have been made to settle matters without resorting to public funding.  

It should be a requirement in every application for civil legal aid for contact proceedings that such documents are provided. 

2.PROPOSALS FOR CHANGE

Our continuing programme of work has included a consideration of whether or not the current tests for contact cases remain fit for purpose. This work has been informed by  findings in the high cost case work,  together with findings from the civil best value review which has included examination of stage reports and requests for additional funding in excess of the default case cost limits.

In assessing whether or not civil legal aid should be made available for contact proceedings and in particular we propose that the key issues for examination should be –

·         the attempts made to resolve matters without recourse to litigation;

·         the extent of the dispute between the parties;

·         the practical benefit any individual will get from the proceedings; and

·         what a private fee paying client of moderate means would do if faced with the same set of circumstances.

This list is not intended to detail all of the factors taken into account in assessing whether or not to make civil legal aid available for contact disputes but rather, as stated above, it focusses on certain key issues which assist in identifying whether it is reasonable to make public funding available for the dispute. 

2.1 Attempts to negotiate matters

Public funding should be made available where necessary and where the work to be done is proportionate to the issues involved. Accordingly, consideration has been given to revising the guidance in relation to contact disputes to request  a far greater level of detail about the background history to any disagreement or concerns in respect of contact. This is to  try to ensure that public funding for such disputes is only available where it is clear that litigation is essential to resolve fundamental matters of principle concerning contact.

The Board’s guidance should reflect the approach that may be taken by the private fee paying client of moderate means and we should ensure that all efforts have been made to try to resolve matters without recourse to litigation. Thus, an application should be able to:

A.   make reference to and submit correspondence between parties and their solicitors directed at resolving the issue

B.    detail the approach applicants have taken to any offers to settle a dispute or to take the issue to mediation

C.   detail any offers made by the applicant to try to resolve a dispute through mediation or other dispute resolution method.

None of this suggests that all cases are suitable for mediation but a more focused and concentrated effort on resolving matters before raising a court action is appropriate where potentially extensive public funding is being sought to try to resolve a dispute. 

Funding can be made available for mediation though advice and assistance or through civil legal aid where this is in place.  Trying to resolve matters of consent, whether by way of correspondence or with some form of external support, is not only likely to result in savings for the public purse but will avoid the potential for the type of protracted civil litigation which is not likely to improve relations between parties who have a child or children together.  Rather, such litigation has the potential only to exacerbate any tensions and as such should be discouraged where possible.

Legal aid should therefore only be made available once it is shown that extensive negotiation has taken place or that several attempts have been made to negotiate this matter without receiving any response.  Applicants  must be able to demonstrate that they have entered into such negotiations with the best intention of finding a solution or compromise to avoid litigation.  Mediation should be attempted wherever possible and if this is not considered to be an option full reasons for this should be provided such as in situations involving domestic abuse.

2.2Extent of contact sought

A number of the applications for civil legal aid we receive concern the level or detail of the contact that may be being made available.  Applications are made to increase non-residential contact to residential contact or to extend the period of contact.  Making public funds available to argue the detail of contact arrangements may not be reasonable.  Where contact is being withheld entirely and on the face of it, there is no good reason for this, then litigation may be required should all attempts to negotiate fail but there may be less necessity to provide public funding where frequency or residential aspects alone are being considered.

The Funding Code in England and Wales and the new merits criteria in place for the few family disputes where full representation is likely to be awarded, states that it is not reasonable to make legal aid available to argue detail or frequency issues but rather it will only be made available to argue the principle of contact.  This is very restrictive.  Although we do not suggest that that approach  be adopted in its entirety in Scotland, granting public funding running potentially to several thousand pounds to determine a timetable for contact may not be appropriate.  If there is any level of consent about contact taking place then it is preferable for parties to continue to work together outwith the court setting to put in place established routines with the possibility of increases in such contact being made over a period of time.  It may be  that the availability of legal aid may encourage long, drawn out and acrimonious cases which could potentially be resolved out of court if funding was not so readily accessible.

Legal aid should only be available for litigation if the areas of disagreement between the parties are such that any litigation will bring about a significant improvement in the arrangements that are in place in respect of the child/children and make a significant positive contribution to the best interest of the child/children.

2.3Comparison with a private fee paying client

Sustainable Future for Legal Aid stated, “legally aided clients should not be disadvantaged compared to those meeting their own legal costs, nor should they have an unfair or disproportionate advantage. This is sometimes referred to as increasing ‘private client reality’”.

Civil legal aid is in place so that those who cannot afford to pay for their own legal assistance are put on a “level playing field” with those who can.  This comparison however has to be made against the individual with moderate resources, meeting their own fees privately and for whom the cost of bringing litigation privately could not be done without some degree of sacrifice.  In view of this, in assessing applications for civil legal aid for contact proceedings careful consideration needs to be given to the extent of litigation that would be entered into by parties were they required to pay for the litigation themselves: the private client reality.

As Lord Reed noted in NJDB –v- JEG & another, it was inconceivable that any reasonable person would expend resources on the scale utilised in that case on a dispute over contact if the money was coming out of his or her own pocket.  While the costs incurred in NJDB were exceptionally high, there remain a substantial number of cases funded with public money where the matter has been before the court for many years and where the costs of ongoing litigation would easily be beyond the resources of private fee paying clients. 

Contact with a  child is a very important matter but the extent of the litigation that should be entered into to resolve this issue needs to be examined closely. 

There can be a number of factors which lead to long running cases.  These include:

·         the behaviour of individual parties

·         the approach that the court takes to try to resolve the dispute

·         the use of bar reports and psychologists

·         the monitoring of supervised contact

·         the court allowing contact in incremental stages and monitoring this through multiple child welfare hearings.

What is however undeniable, particularly in light of Lord Reed’s comments, is that it should not be the case that extensive public resources are expended on disputes that would not have been funded privately or that would not have followed the particular court route being followed were it not for the fact that one or more party could access public funding. 

The assessment process should be designed to put the applicant in the same position as   someone for  whom the cost of private funded  litigation could be met, but not without some degree of sacrifice.

4.CURRENT WORK ON CONTACT APPLICATIONS

We are currently designing an holistic review of applications for civil legal aid by case type.  The pilot will consider a broad sample of contact applications where more than one party is seeking public funding.  All the applications for civil legal aid applicable to any one court action will be considered. 

This review will commence at the point any second or subsequent application for civil legal aid is submitted in respect of one court case.  Where an individual is granted legal aid to pursue a contact dispute (subject to the current and potentially amended criteria for such actions) and a subsequent application for civil legal aid is made by, for example, a defender or a third party minuter in the proceedings then all relevant applications will be examined and re-examined.  Depending on the information available, it may be that later applications are refused with steps also taken potentially to terminate any earlier grants of civil legal aid for the case. 

We have found in a previous review of  high cost cases, that information provided in one application may be wholly contradicted by  information in a second application from a different party in the action.  While different views and perceptions of events in family disputes are by no means unusual, it is  concerning when information emerges in a second application that allege and provide third party evidence of a serious underlying issue/s likely to impact on the court’s approach to contact including –

·         frequent and habitual drug use;

·         social work department involvement; and

·         police involvement.

These factors are not always drawn to the Board’s attention but in assessing prospects for success they could be highly relevant.  Equally in defender applications, what can, at first blush, appear to be a reasonable basis for opposing contact can be contradicted by information available in the opponent’s application.

This pilot is likely to involve consideration of a minimum of 100 cases (not applications).  This should allow the opportunity for examination of the issues in dispute in a broad range of cases.  This work will allow an examination of a broad range of issues to help to determine whether the litigation is necessary and the costs proportionate in bringing the issues involved before the court.

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General Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:12:12 +0100
<![CDATA[Countdown Begins for Land Registration Change]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/countdown-begins-land-registration-change /node/2964 /node/2964#comments COUNTDOWN BEGINS FOR LAND REGISTRATION CHANGE

`                                               

100 days until designated day

The end of August (the 30th) marks 100 days until the new powers of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 (‘the 2012 Act’) will take effect.

In the run up to the designated day on 8 December 2014, Registers of Scotland (RoS) will be providing up-to-date information and support to stakeholders. The dedicated 2012 Act website (www.ros.gov.uk/2012act/) is a central source of information, and includes background details about the act and resulting changes to RoS registration processes. The site provides a timeline of key points and actions connected to the 2012 Act, information videos, social media links and an area to address frequently asked questions. There is also a section to sign up to e-mail updates.

RoS is hosting a series of one-day information and support roadshows across Scotland from September to November this year, with spaces still available in Shetland and Fort William. Booking information is available at www.ros.gov.uk/2012act/.

 

 

For regular updates about the 2012 Act, follow the RoS corporate Facebook (www.facebook.com/registersofscotland) and Twitter (@RegistersofScot) channels. Links to changes and updates will also be added to the RoS communications group on LinkedIn.

 

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General Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:12:48 +0100
<![CDATA[June (?) Gazette now Issued]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/june-gazette-now-issued-0 /node/2963 /node/2963#comments My copy of the June Gazette arrived on my desk on 14th August 2014.  The reason for the delay is that I took on some of the editorial work myself and found that it was not so easy.  In particular, the reproduction of certain learned speeches was very time-consuming operation. 

However, this edition focuses on certain issues which can only be taken forward if there is a response from the membership.

We have considered, for example, the mainly positive changes proposed in the court system and we have enquired as to whether specialisation is the best way forward.  If it is for the public benefit then it must be welcomed.  However, it supposes also that solicitors are decreasingly able to advise their clients in relation to their affairs in general which is a development which appears to run counter to the solicitor-client relationship.  Perhaps a clear protocol is required in order to distinguish between the “continuing” solicitor and the specialist solicitor.  Perhaps we have to caution against specialisation as a solution.

Also, your Council has made the finding that the statutory assumption that mortgage borrowers will be liable for mortgage lenders’ legal costs is outdated, unfair and anti-competitive.  This has been the subject of discussion for some time now and no significant amount of contrary opinion has been received.  If we are to take this resolution aboard, for example, to the Law Society, to the Scottish Law Commission, CML, Parliament etc. we now require instances from professional practice which support the resolution.  With vested interests, as they are, there appears to be no prospect of this issue going anywhere without that support.  Over to the membership.

At page 52, we invite the composition of a speech that might have been made to our Council circa 1936 to predict and warn against the loss of the legal profession’s control of its own regulation. 

Despite the shortage of time (two weeks) for the receipt of content for the September Gazette we intend to publish same on its due date.  Members are therefore urged to assist with this project by submitting their contributions either in relation to the above or to anything else that may be of interest/assistance to colleagues.

MS

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General Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:59:06 +0100
<![CDATA[Lloyds Panel Membership - new Terms and Conditions]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/lloyds-panel-membership-new-terms-and-conditions /node/2961 /node/2961#comments Following the profession's recent decision not to require separate representation for residential mortgage borrowers and lenders, Lloyds, in conjunction with CML, have now created new conditions for solicitors to act in residential mortgage transactions.  These conditions include :-

payment of an annual (practising) fee,

disclosure of a wide range of confidential information and

submission to inspection.

Details of these new conditions are currently in circulation to law firms.  It is likely that a unified response to this development will be of better service to the profession and to the public who wish to choose their own solicitors to act for them than individual responses.   Accordingly, it is suggested that you submit your views and information regarding this matter by email to secretary@slas.co.uk and that you copy to SLAS any representations which you decide to send to CML or to Lloyds or to the Law Society or wherever.

MS   

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General Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:26:13 +0100
<![CDATA[SLAS – AGM 19th June 2014]]> http://www.scottishlawagents.org.uk/news/slas-–-agm-19th-june-2014 /node/2960 /node/2960#comments A number of members have enquired as to why there is radio silence on the website in relation to the outcome of the AGM this year.  The reason fro this is that full details are incorporated in the current gazette and we prefer not to publish on the website until the gazette has gone out.  On this occasion, the gazette has been held up because of difficulties we have had in producing particular items.  The gazette is now complete and should be with members in a day or two when we will publish matters also on the website.

 

Secretary 

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General Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:39:05 +0100