News & Events

2020

news and events

Due to the ongoing Covid situation, and the risks to health, we have postponed the seminar “How to Conduct a Sheriff Court Proof”, which had been scheduled to take place on 12th November 2020. The event will be held instead when coronavirus restrictions allow and when it is safe to do so.

In December we issued the 4th Scottish Law Gazette of 2020. The first issue of 2021 is due to be issued in March. Members are encouraged to submit news, articles, book reviews or items for discussion. The Gazette is not a glossy business magazine but a traditional publication for those who do not necessarily want to spend all their time looking at a computer screen.

In September we issued the third Scottish Law Gazette of 2020. The next edition is scheduled for December 2020, with a further edition due to appear in March 2021. Members are encouraged to submit contributions

  

On 23rd November 2020 there was published the last of our Scotsman articles of 2020. It was on  the subject of collective pardons. These appear every 8 weeks, in print and online, and they are a way of airing matters that are of concern or interest to our membership, the profession or the public. Our next article is due in January 2021. We regularly have items on Scottish Legal News. If you have any ideas for future publications please let us know

 

The Society is always keen to respond to the Consultation exercises undertaken by the Government, the Scottish Law Commission and others. We responded during 2020 to Consultations on Crofting Law and on Proposals on the Reform of the Law relating to Cohabitation. We do monitor upcoming Consultations generally, and anyone interested in assisting in responding is welcome to do so.  

 

The Society’s Annual General Meeting took place on 18th June 2020. For the first time in the Society’s 137 year history the meeting took place remotely using Zoom video conferencing. John Stirling, Hamilton and David MacLennan, Edinburgh were elected President and Vice President respectively. 

 

The effect of Coronavirus was high on the Agenda.

 

Also, the meeting heard a motion calling upon the Council of the Society to state that it had no confidence in the budget of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Following submissions by members, an exchange of differing views and a debate the motion was approved by the overwhelming majority of members present. 

 

Because Covic-19 has hampered our ability to organise any physical CPD events, a problem facing all CPD providers, we have launched a webcast based CPD programme, totally FREE to members and giving extraordinary value for money for anyone subscribing as a SLAS member.

 

In July 2020 the Society responded to the claim that the profession’s increased Covid driven reliance on technology supported the view that Alternative Business Structures are preferable to the conventional partnership model. Acknowledging the importance of IT in enabling solicitors to continue distance working we observed that our own organisation had been dependent on Zoom video conferencing to maintain our programme of monthly committee meetings as well as enabling us to meet third parties such as the Competition and Markets Authority and to participate in events such as the AGM of the Law Society. It will be a highly important communication tool long after Covid ceases to be a problem. Indeed, many processes such as civil litigation are likely never to be conducted in the same way again. The arguments are strong that remote hearings are considerably more efficient and cost effective than traditional courtroom gatherings. Where we are baffled, however, is in following an argument that the increased use of IT is somehow relevant to the ownership, as opposed to the methods of operation, of legal firms in Scotland. This factor has nothing to do with the supposed merits of ABS. Non-lawyers are indeed vital to the way in which we conduct business, as they always have been, but it simply does not follow that they should be part owners of businesses. Lawyers and non-lawyers perform complementary but distinct roles.

 

On 13th April, the Society issued a Reply to the Competition and Markets Authority’s Response to Esther Roberton’s “Fit for the Future – Report of the Independent Review of the Legal Services Regulation in Scotland’.  The CMA Response was released only on 24th March and by answering in under three weeks, we were the first association of Scottish lawyers to react to the CMA Response.  Our Reply challenges the CMA’s criticism of our profession and the assumptions that it makes about Fees and Pricing, Alternative Business Structures and Regulation as well as scrutinising the CMA’s methods of undertaking its research and finding flaws in how it has reached its conclusions. Unlike the Law Society of Scotland, our Society is not conflicted in standing up for the interests of the solicitor profession alone.  Equally, we are not prepared to let the independence of our profession be undermined by the efforts of the CMA, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and others.  Our Reply was featured in a news report on Scottish Legal News on 15th April. 

 

Last year Covid-19 caused huge disruption to the housing market and the repercussions will be felt for some time.  Nobody knows when the situation will be resolved, sales will be delayed or cancelled, and we are concerned that conveyancing clients will find themselves unable to reclaim Additional Dwelling Supplement under the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax system.  For that reason we wrote to Revenue Scotland to seek an extension of the 18 month period that cannot be exceeded between the purchase of a second home and the sale of the client’s existing home.  We do not see why people should be out of pocket through no fault on their part.

The Society is proud to sponsor the best floor speech prize at the 2020/21 Donald Dewar Schools Debating Tournament. The Secretary judged in two heats at the end of 2020. We owe it to our young people to support all activities that encourage their educational development and their participation in interactive projects, particularly during the pandemic lockdown.