Media Release: Quality rather than quantity is needed when Parliament legislates, says Law Society

THE Law Society of Scotland has today said that new legislation is not always the answer to society’s problem and warns that ill considered or over complicated law can lead to unwanted consequences and increased demands on the existing legal system.

Says a spokesperson: “In its manifesto for 2011, the Law Society of Scotland has called for Parliament only to legislate when necessary to modernise the law, to comply with decisions of the court or to conform to international obligations.

“In research for its manifesto, the Society held a number of discussion evenings with local stakeholders including: charities, universities, businesses and voluntary organisations to identify the needs of the wider civic community in relation to the legal system.”

Jamie Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The creation of the Scottish Parliament and its committee system in particular has served to revolutionise the way the public is engaged in Scotland’s decision making processes. Those with expertise and experience in relevant areas can play a valuable role in effective and detailed pre-legislative consultation, in the development and drafting of legislation and through the consultation process once a bill is issued.

“At the same time, politicians must understand that legislation is not always the answer to a problem and careful consideration must be given to whether legislation is needed as well as the content of any such law. This is also important in the context of the implementation of EU law and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We found during our manifesto research discussion evenings that there was a clear view that it was important to take the time during the legislation consultation process to ensure the legislation is right first time to reduce the need for laws to be brought back at a later stage for amendment. This is why we have called for, in our manifesto for parliament to legislate only when necessary in our manifesto. We would like to ensure the lengthy decision making process is dedicated to creating good legislation.”

The Society has also called for a review of Scottish Parliament’s consultation process to ensure it matches with the aspirations of the Consultative Steering Group.

Mr Millar added: “One of our members asked during the Society’s hustings in Glasgow, how candidates plan to address the numerous outstanding private law reform proposals put forward by the Scottish Law Commission. The candidates recognised there was a need to review the legislative decision making process and a number of solutions were suggested including extending the parliamentary working hours and extending the time of the stage 3 debate to ensure amendments were afforded enough time for consideration to make certain the legislation passed is right first time.”

The Society has also called for an evaluation to be made of the Scottish statues and subordinate legislation passed since 1999 and the effectiveness of the legislation.

ENDS 04 May 2011

Notes to editors:

Please visit the website to download a copy of the Society’s manifesto: www.lawscot.org.uk/manifesto

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Emily Young on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884 or at the Law Society of Scotland Communications & Marketing Department emilyyoung@lawscot.org.uk / valeriemcewan@lawscot.org.uk

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Contact: Emily Young
Phone: 0131 476 8204
Email: emilyyoung@lawscot.org.uk
Website: http://www.lawscot.org.uk