Media Release: Law Society comment on Bills in legislative programme announced today

FOLLOWING the First Minister’s statement this afternoon, in which 15 new Bills were announced for the legislative programme for the year ahead, the Law Society of Scotland has today emphasised that the need to ensure access to justice and delivering justice should be at the heart of any legislative reform.

One of the bills announced by First Minister, Alex Salmond, was the Police and Fire Reform Bill.

The Law Society of Scotland’s president, Cameron Ritchie said: “While any decision to reform the structure of the police and fire services is for the parliament to make, it is important to ensure that any reform implemented by the Scottish Government, should retain an independent and democratically accountable police service, with interests of justice at its core.

“Wider initiatives between local authorities and police to prevent crime are to be welcomed and we believe that reform to the police services in Scotland should not result in any reduction to these invaluable initiatives.”

Also included in today’s announcement was the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill, which, if passed, would create a legal minimum price for alcohol in Scotland. This proposal was included in the Alcohol Etc. (Scotland) Bill during the last parliamentary term, but was removed from the final amended Bill.

Mr Ritchie said: “The Society’s Competition Law and Licensing Law committees closely scrutinised the Alcohol Bill during the last parliamentary term and in our written and oral evidence to Parliament, we highlighted that, ultimately, the legality of minimum pricing of alcohol can only be finally determined by the European Court of Justice.

“Issues such as the compatibility of EC duty directives require to be taken into account as well as legal issues concerning the free movement of alcohol in terms of the EU treaty. We fully intend to review the Bill when published and considering it further with our committees.”

He added: “The key role of our law reform team and its committees, which are composed of solicitors and other specialists, is to ensure that the proposed legislation translates into good, workable law that fits with existing Scots law, complies with ECHR, and can be effectively implemented. We work to ensure the law works for our member solicitors in practice but also to ensure the interests of the public as well.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government further in the new parliamentary term.”


Notes to editors

The other Bills announced in the legislative programme for 2011-12 include: Agricultural Holdings Bill, Legal Aid & Scottish Civil Justice Council Bill, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, Long Leases (Scotland) Bill and the Self Directed Support Bill.

The Society has responded to the consultation papers preceding each of these Bills and its responses, in full, can be viewed on the consultation page of the website: /forthepublic/consultations

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Emily Young on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884. For the out of hours service please call 0131 226 7411.

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Contact: Emily Young
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