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What is mediation?

What is mediation?

You might have heard somebody mention mediation before but what is mediation? Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves two (or more) parties and a mediator. Mediation provides parties with the opportunity to have an open and honest discussion about a range of family law issues in a neutral environment. Everything that is said during mediation is confidential and the parties have control over any decisions that are made during mediation.

What sort of issues can be dealt with at mediation?

A

Scottish Government consultation on changes to procurement rules

Scottish Government consultation on changes to procurement rules

On 9 February 2015 the Scottish Government launched their consultation on proposed changes to procurement rules. The changes are coming about as a result of a new European procurement directive and the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

The Scottish Government has until 18 April 2016 to transpose the provisions of the directive into Scots law, and this will result in the creation of new procurement regulations. These regulations will also comprise further provisions and guidance on the terms of the 2014 Act.

So what are

Can you evict a drug dealing tenant?

Can you evict a drug dealing tenant?

One of the most significant changes being proposed under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 is the removal of the "reasonableness" defence where a landlord seeks eviction based on the tenant being the subject of a conviction in respect of a criminal offence committed in or in the locality of the tenancy. How difficult will it be to evict a drug dealing tenant?

Many eviction actions have been raised using this ground, mainly in connection with offences relating to illegal drugs.

Many Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)

How can Collaborative Law help?

How can Collaborative Law help?

The collaborative law process offers separating couples a non-confrontational way of agreeing the legal and practical arrangements for their separation and divorce. By reaching agreement in a collaborative way, couples are able to come to a good arrangement together through supported discussions.

At its simplest, the collaborative process is all about reaching solutions together.? Sometimes talking things through can seem the hardest challenge of all. When relationships break down, hurt, bitterness and anger are often the strongest feelings.

From the outset parties and their agents

Obesity and Disability Discrimination

Obesity and Disability Discrimination

A recent Northern Ireland Industrial Tribunal (Bickerstaff v Butcher) made a unanimous decision that the claimant was disabled and upheld his claim of harassment. So how does this affect obesity and disability discrimination?

Mr Bickerstaff worked at Randox Laboratories in Co Antrim where he said he was harassed by colleagues, in particular Mr Butcher, because of his weight. Mr Bickerstaff brought an employment claim against Mr Butcher for harassment.

In one instance, Mr Butcher had said that the claimant was ?so fat he

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax - Update on Leases

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax -  Update on Leases

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is a charge on land transactions in Scotland. It is accepted that LBTT will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Scotland for most land transactions with an effective date of on or after 1 April 2015.

LBTT will make significant changes to the way returns are completed for commercial lease transactions including Assignations (no LBTT is be payable on standard residential leases). New rules regarding notification will be introduced alongside new rates of tax linked more closely to

The Freedom of Information Act is 10 years old!

The Freedom of Information Act is 10 years old!

The Freedom of Information (?FOI?) (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 1 January 2005 and creates an entitlement to receive information held by a public authority upon request. The Act applies to public bodies including the Scottish Government and local authorities. However, the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act have never been extended to housing associations.

The Scottish Information Commissioner has recently called for the Act to be extended to cover those bodies which are responsible for social housing. In the Commissioner?s Report,

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Update

As we have discussed in recent blogs, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of property is to be replaced in Scotland by the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). The change is due to come into force on 1st April 2015. So what will this land and buildings transaction tax update mean for purchasers?

The Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney?announced amended the proposed rates at which LBTT will be charged from those originally proposed in October 2014.

The threshold for paying tax

Fit for Work service ? ready for change?

Fit for Work service ? ready for change?

The Department for Work and Pensions has finally publishing guidance for employers about the long awaited Fit for Work service. Here we look at what the service provides and what it will mean for employers and employees.

Presently, more than 130 million days annually are lost to sickness absence at a cost to the economy of around ?15 billion. Employers face an annual bill of around ?9 billion for loss of production and sick pay costs, and individuals face a loss of earnings of ?4

Scottish Powers of Attorney confirmed to be valid

Scottish Powers of Attorney confirmed to be valid

Last year, we explained how a decision from Glasgow Sheriff Court raised concerns that many Scottish Powers of Attorney could, in fact, be invalid. In that case, Sheriff Baird at Glasgow decided that a Power of Attorney granted in favour of a bank was not valid as the wording used in the document did not comply with the requirements of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.

The potential effect of this was wide reaching as the wording used in the Power of Attorney in

Employment and HR New Year Resolutions

Employment and HR New Year Resolutions

As January is the time for make resolutions and setting goals in our personal lives, it might be an idea to do the same in our professional lives also. So many things go to the bottom of a to-do list and can be forgotten easily. So what are your employment and HR New Year resolutions?

We?have suggested?a few targets which you might wish to set yourself over the coming 12 months:

  1. Put in place an effective appraisal system

This is something which can bring an

What to expect in Employment Law in 2015

What to expect in Employment Law in 2015

As we approach the end of what has been a very busy year for employment law, it is time to start thinking about what changes are coming in employment law in 2015.

  1. As mentioned in our previous blog parents of children born on or after the 5 April 2015 will be able to share their parental leave depending on their own individual requirements. This change will have a potentially huge impact for employers who will have to manage employees? requests and respond to them appropriately.

Changes to Land Registration in Scotland

Changes to Land Registration in Scotland

More than three decades after the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 entered into force in 1981, the law governing the registration of title to property in Scotland is being modernised. So how will changes to land registration in Scotland affect you?

As of Monday 8th December 2014 the relevant law will be the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012, which aims to:

  • update the law surrounding the registration of rights to land in the Land Register
  • introduce electronic documents into the conveyancing process

Autumn Statement 2014 - Stamp Duty Land Tax Reform

Autumn Statement 2014 - Stamp Duty Land Tax Reform

As we discussed in a recent blog, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of property is to be replaced in Scotland by the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). The change is due to come into force on 1st April 2015.

Yesterday, however, the Chancellor announced immediate changes to the current UK SDLT regime which will affect Scotland from now until the introduction of LBTT in April.? Both new regimes will use a graduated system similar to the current UK

Christmas Party Problems

Christmas Party Problems

The list has been made, the shopping begun and Band Aid has become a familiar song in our lives once more. It can only mean one thing: Christmas is coming!? However, all too often the festive season can put many employees and some employers, on Santa?s naughty list as a result of their behaviour at office Christmas parties or failure to address Christmas party problems.

Here are some handy hints to think about before heading off to the office party and to let you get

Shared parental leave - getting it right

New rights for employees who are parents to take shared parental leave (SPL) in the first year of their child's life come in to force on 1 December 2014. The scheme will apply in relation to children whose expected week of childbirth begins on or after the 5 April 2015 or who are placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. This blog sets out some information for employers to think about and what steps they should take next.

For births, a mother who

Minute of Agreement, Joint Property Ownership

Minute of Agreement, Joint Property Ownership

Cohabiting couples who buy a property together need to consider whether having the title in joint names adequately reflects the financial contributions each is making. Should you enter into a minute of agreement when buying a property jointly?

It is often the case that one party commits to paying a greater share of the required deposit than the other, even where subsequent mortgage payments are divided equally between the purchasers. Sometimes a parent or other relative provide a gift or loan to one individual to

Employers Winter Checklist

Do you have an employers winter checklist?? With the clocks turning back?a few weeks ago and the mornings and evenings getting darker, it seems an appropriate time to start thinking about an employer?s obligations towards employees during winter.

Many people will remember the extreme weather conditions that the country suffered in the past?and it is important that during any period of adverse weather an employer has thought ahead and has an understanding of what is needed in order for the business to continue and function

What do I need to know when selling my property?

Are you considering selling your property but perhaps don?t know where to start or what paperwork may be required? Selling your property can be a stressful time. However, this process can be made less stressful if you know the issues which commonly arise during this process. So what are the common things to be aware of?

Do you know where the title deeds to the property are?

This is especially relevant if you have been in your property for a long time and are unsure

Procurement Reform: Could your Community Benefit?

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent on 17 June 2014. It sits alongside existing public contracts regulations, and will increase regulation for public bodies seeking to award contracts for works, services and supplies. The Act applies where contracts have a value of £50,000 or more, except works contracts where the threshold is £2m.

Most public bodies have, for many years, sought to include community benefits provisions in their procurement processes, as a way of using their purchasing power to benefit their local area,

Overtime and Holiday Pay - what should be included?

Overtime and holiday pay - do you currently consider overtime when processing holiday pay?? Earlier this week the Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down the decision in the case of Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and found that employees? holiday pay may now need to be calculated to include any overtime.

Before this ruling, voluntary overtime was not typically included when calculating a workers? rate of holiday pay.? This judgement has clarified that workers should have voluntary and compulsory overtime taken into account when they are

Arranging Contact Post Separation

Arranging contact post-separation is important for children, to ensure they have an opportunity to see both parents. It can be difficult for parents to set aside their own feelings and make contact arrangements in the best interests of their children. Unfortunately, many parents are unable, or unwilling, to have direct contact with their former partner. These parents often consult lawyers for help. Family lawyers often use the excellent service provided by contact centres to resolve such difficulties.

What is a contact centre?

Contact centres are

Landlords duties under the Immigration Act 2014

Do you know?what a private landlords duties under the Immigration Act 2014 are?

The Immigration Act 2014 makes it more difficult for illegal migrants to live in the UK and addresses the small minority of private landlords who knowingly target and exploit illegal migrants.

The Act means private landlords have duties under the immigration act to confirm prospective tenants have a right to reside in the UK.? Many letting agents and private landlords currently carry out ID checks on prospective tenants and retain copies of

What happens when a tenant disappears?

Picture the scene??
You notice that your tenant is behind in their rental payments. You go to the property to speak with them however the tenant has disappeared. You have a look through the letterbox, only to see a pile of unopened mail and a house that appears to have been abandoned. You reach the conclusion that all signs point to the tenant having vanished, sadly without thinking to tell you first. ?So what happens when a tenant disappears?

You change the locks, dispose of

Managing sickness absence during pregnancy

Managing sickness absence during pregnancy - the recent news stories about the Duchess of Cambridge suffering from severe morning sickness in her second pregnancy have brought to mind the issue for employers and employees of sickness during pregnancy. Although Catherine is unlikely to face any disciplinary issues or be required to attend a back to work interview when she is feeling better, many employees are met with such things in the course of their pregnancy. In this blog I will look at some things for

Refuse a Right to Buy application

The Right to Buy (RTB) process is littered with various time limits which are all too familiar to landlords. However, it seems to be that some landlords are willing to run the risk of losing stock through the Right to Buy when they don?t necessarily have to. So can housing associations refuse a Right to Buy application?

There are noted cases where tenants who, had the landlords acted timeously, would not have been entitled to buy their rented property.

When an application is received under

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Scotland

The Scottish Finance Secretary announced the rates at which Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Scotland will be charged. The New Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Scotland (LBTT), which replaces Stamp Duty (the lump-sum tax that anyone buying a property worth more than a certain amount is required to pay) for house purchases in Scotland from April 2015, will be charged at 2 per cent of the purchase price between ?135,000 and ?250,000, 10 per cent between ?250,001 and ?1million and 12 per cent on anything

Preservation of Real Burdens in Title Deeds - Act Now!

Preservation of Real Burdens in Title Deeds - Act Now!

To those who believe the legal profession to be a rather slow-moving and old fashioned beast it will come as something of a surprise to learn that we are about to enter a period of great upheaval in Scottish property law. Particularly in relation to the preservation of real burdens in title deeds.

Conveyancers are at present awaiting the provisions of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 taking effect on 8 December 2014. The Act represents the most significant change in land registration in

Scottish Government Consult on PRS Tenancies

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on proposed reforms to Private Rented Sector tenancies?in Scotland.

The consultation document proposes the most fundamental change to the private sector tenancy regime in Scotland since the introduction of Assured and Short Assured Tenancies in 1988.?The proposals are wide reaching and could have a fundamental impact on the day-to-day operations of the Private Rented Sector throughout Scotland?.

The stated aims of the proposed reforms are to improve security of tenure for tenants whilst giving suitable safeguards for landlords,

Employment law changes in October 2014

October 2014?brings with it a number of employment law changes for you to be aware of. We look at them in detail here.

1.???? National Minimum Wage increases

From the 1 October 2014, the national minimum wage increases from ?6.31 to ?6.50. The youth rate increases from ?5.03 to ?5.13 per hour. This is in line with the Low Pay Commission?s recommendation to the Government.

2.???? Equal Pay audits

Where an equal pay claim is submitted, and the employment tribunal finds that there has been

Employment law: rights of expectant fathers and partners

Do you know the rights of expectant fathers and partners from 1 October 2014?

An expectant father, or the partner of a pregnant woman, will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany her to a maximum of two of her antenatal appointments.? We take a look at how this change will affect employers and how best to plan for more frequent requests.

The Government is aiming to achieve greater involvement of both of the child?s parents in the earlier stages of pregnancy.?

Applying for Guardianship at Scottish Courts

Clients who come to us looking for advice on applying for Guardianship are often anxious that guardianship involves an application to the court and want to know what the Scottish Courts need.

Most are unaware of the procedures and timescales involved and are surprised to learn their application has to be supported by three independent Reports from:

-?the adult?s GP
-?a psychiatrist
-?a Mental Health Officer

Why are medical reports required?
The medical reports by the GP and psychiatrist confirm to the court that the

Why is a Power of Attorney important?

Why is a Power of Attorney important?

In December 2013, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in partnership with our firm, launched the 'Start the Conversation' campaign to raise awareness of the importance of Powers of Attorney. You may have noticed television adverts and a social media campaign encouraging all members of the public to discuss Powers of Attorney with their friends and family. So why is a power of attorney important?

The television and online campaign has now re-launched and renamed 'My Power of Attorney'. You may even

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 and RSLs

The Housing Scotland Act 2014 has now completed its passage through the Scottish Parliament. Royal Assent was granted on 1 August 2014.

This Act will introduce significant changes to the rules which govern tenancies in the public sector in Scotland. Two parts have direct effect on social housing.

Part 1 of the Act will lead to the complete abolition of the Right to Buy. We expect abolition to be effective on 1 August 2016.

Part 2 of the Act will include the following amendments to

What happens at an Employment Tribunal?

Do you know what happens?at an Employment Tribunal?

The Employment Tribunal procedure is designed to deal with claims brought against employers by employees, which have not been resolved by informal discussions or through the mandatory ACAS Early Conciliation procedure.? Although Employment Tribunal hearings are not as formal as court hearings, attending an Employment Tribunal can be a daunting experience for claimants, respondents and witnesses.? Here we have a look at what to expect on the day.

Who will hear the case?

If the case proceeds

Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and RSLs

The new Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 ('the 2014 Act') came into force on 1 August 2014.

The 2014 Act affects some existing societies, and changes how new societies are registered by:-

  1. Replacing the 'industrial and provident society' legal form with two new legal forms:-
  • Co-operative society
  • Community benefit society
  1. Repealing and replacing previous industrial and provident society legislation including:
  • Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (including the 1967, 1975, 1978 and 2002 Acts)
  • Friendly and Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1968
  • Co-operative

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill proposes amending Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which will enable certain bodies to buy abandoned or neglected land and to make such land work for the benefit of the community.

The Bill will allow communities to identify any public sector land or buildings that they feel they could make better use of with a view to strengthening community participation, community empowerment and encouraging community development.

There will also be new duties for community planning so that

Landlord legal rights - accessing property

One of the most frequent problems faced by landlords is how they access a property when their tenant refuses to let them in. This is more common when the landlord, tenant relationship has broken down! What are landlord legal rights - accessing property is always a tricky issue.

Routine Access

Most Tenancies should have a specific clause covering landlord's access to the property. Most of these clauses say that the tenant agrees to give the landlord access:

-  To carry out maintenance, repair or inspection

Landlords: how to prepare for court appearances

Unfortunately it?s not like it appears on TV ? the reality of the court system in Scotland is very different and here we give landlords 5 tips on how to prepare for court appearances.

Sometimes it feels as if I?ve spent most of my life in court, but for landlords raising their own?eviction or payment actions?against tenants, the court can often be a scary place.? Here are some handy tips to hopefully help calm any nerves.

1.?Your Clothes
Sadly, some courts will judge a book

Vulnerable Adults: Deprivation of Liberty

There is urgent need for advice and guidance following a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court which means that far more vulnerable adults than previously realised may have suffered a deprivation of liberty.? It also calls into question the use of standard procedures of moving people into nursing homes.

The case concerned the rights of disabled people living in care facilities in England. The Supreme Court judgement was in respect of two conjoined appeals; which analysed the cases of two sisters with learning difficulties and

Zero hours contracts: change is in the air?

The Government made an announcement that they will be clamping down on the use of zero hours contracts and putting an outright ban on the use of exclusivity clauses within these contracts in the Small Businesses Bill which will be pushed through before the general election in 2015.

The term zero hours is not defined in legislation but is generally understood to be an employment contract between an employer and a worker, which means the employer is not obliged to provide the worker with any

Consumer Protection Regulations: Seller Beware?

Consumer Protection Regulations: Seller Beware?

Buying and selling property in Scotland has traditionally been based on the premise that you should 'let the buyer beware' - caveat emptor - with the onus being on the purchaser to satisfy themselves on the condition of a property. This central tenet of residential property law has been dealt something of a blow recently, due to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Almost by stealth, the Consumer Protection Regulations have replaced the previous legislation (the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991) and now

Changes to flexible working requests

Following on from my previous blog on the subject of flexible working requests, changes to request flexible working requests come into place on the 30 June 2014. When they took office, the Coalition Government made it part of their agenda to introduce flexible working for all employees.?What are these changes and how might they affect you?

The change to flexible working affects more than working parents and carers alone. The right to flexible working will now apply to all employees with 26 weeks? continuous service

Holiday Pay and Commission: are you getting it right?

The recent European Court Justice (ECJ) decision made a number of employers sit up and take notice due to the way in which the ECJ dealt with the calculation of holiday pay and commission. Are you getting it right?

Employers will know that the Working Time Regulations (WTR) state that all workers receive 5.6 weeks paid annual leave throughout the year. However, it does not specify how statutory holiday pay should be calculated. Theoretically, this is left to national legislation or practice.? For each week

Scottish Care in the Community to lose NHS funding

From April 2015, Scottish care in the community will lose full NHS funding. Patients with complicated long-term healthcare problems will no longer have access to full NHS funding if they are cared for in the community as opposed to in hospital.

Currently, the ?NHS Continuing Healthcare? scheme operates so that patients with chronic conditions being treated in a care home setting or in their own home are entitled to have their care funded by the NHS.

This operates in addition to free personal care which

Are actions of Division and Sale fair?

Are actions of Division and Sale fair?

So are actions of division and sale fair? If one or more persons have title to a property in Scotland all of them need to consent if there is to be a sale of that property. If the parties cannot agree on a sale or one or more of them simply 'disappears' then Scots law provides a remedy for a co-owner who wants to dispose of their interest. The remedy is an action of Division and Sale. In circumstances where the property cannot be divided,

Could your Power of Attorney be invalid?

Could your Power of Attorney be invalid? We?were recently consulted by two clients wishing to apply for Guardianship of Mrs W, who had lost capacity to act on her own behalf. The application was sent to The Office of the Public Guardian (?OPG?), who advised that they already held a Continuing Power of Attorney for Mrs W on their register, granted in favour of a Bank in 2008. Mrs W had never mentioned this and the Applicants were unaware of its existence. Although the Applicants

Power of Attorney: Banking on better service

Power of Attorney: Banking on better service

A Power of Attorney is often essential when a loved one loses mental capacity or is vulnerable is some way, as it is often the case that they are no longer able to make their own decisions.

This can be a distressing and stressful time for all concerned. However, if a person has a Power of Attorney (POA) already in place it can help ease these pressures.

A POA is a legal authority given by one person to one or more individuals allowing them to

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013 (?LBTT Act?) might not sound exciting, but as the first tax Act to be passed by a Scottish Parliament in over 300 years it is certainly noteworthy for those with an interest in Scottish residential or commercial property.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (?LBTT?) is one of two areas of taxation over which the Scottish Parliament has derived legislative competence from the Scotland Act 2012, the other being Landfill Tax. It is intended that LBTT replace

Bedroom Tax, the final chapter?

April 2013 saw the introduction of changes to housing benefit which were dubbed the ?bedroom tax?. Over the course of the last 14 months our blogs have provided information on the introduction of these rules, the challenges to them and the cases which have been decided by tribunals. So is this Bedroom Tax, the final chapter?

During the last year, the Scottish government complained that they were being prevented from dealing with the impact of the bedroom tax by the rules which affected Discretionary Housing