We will modernise civil and criminal law and the justice system to meet the needs of people in Scotland in the 21st century.
Key Achievements by Priority in 2017/18
- The Independent Review of Legal Aid concluded in February 2018 and a report was presented to Scottish Ministers: https://gov.scot/Resource/0053/00532544.pdf . The report and its recommendations have been discussed with key stakeholders and the Scottish Government will publish its response in Autumn 2018.
- An independent Review of the regulation of legal services was established and will present its report to Scottish Ministers in Autumn 2018. The report will be considered and a response issued in 2019.
- A New Expert Group on preventing sexual offending involving children and young people was established to respond to the findings of new research published in November 2017. http://gov.scot/Publications/2017/09/7838
- The implementation of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy began and the first annual progress report was published in June 2018. (Also priority 6.) https://gov.scot/Publications/2018/06/7045
- Implementation of the Evidence and Procedure Review ( EPR) next steps report on Joint Investigative Interviews began, including funding to upgrade facilities and develop bespoke training for police and social workers.
- Lord Bracadale's independent recommendations to Scottish Ministers on hate crime laws were published in May 2018 and the SG made a commitment to consult on those recommendations in 18-19. http://gov.scot/Publications/2018/05/2988
- The Equally Safe Delivery Plan was published in November 2017 and Violence Against Women Justice funding was maintained beyond the First Minister's 3 year commitment.
- A large scale jury research study into how juries reach decisions was commissioned in September 2017 and is now underway.
- The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) Bill was passed in June 2018.
- The Contract (Third Party Rights) Bill was passed in October 2017.
- The Domestic Abuse Bill was passed in February 2018, making Scotland one of the first countries in the world to criminalise psychological abuse. This will be implemented in early 2019.
- The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill was passed in July 2018 with implementation in 2019.
- The Prescription Bill is currently in progress through Parliament.
- The Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Payments) Bill is currently in progress through Parliament.
- The Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill to raise the age to 12 and ensure no child under this age receives a criminal record, is currently in progress through Parliament.
- An expert group was convened to define sectarianism in Scots Law. This group will undertake a consultation and report by March 2019.
- The consultation on the Review of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy was launched in May 2018.
Our priority is to improve our civil, criminal and administrative law and justice systems, including legal aid, so that they are up-to-date, transparent, fair and respect the rights and diverse needs of users.
- In February, the Scottish Law Commission published its 10th Programme of Law Reform in Scotland for 2018-2022. https://scotlawcom.gov.uk/law-reform/tenth-programme-of-law-reform-consultation/
- The Minister for Community Safety announced the appointment of a new Commissioner of the Scottish Law Commission in July 2018.
- SG published the 'Scotland's Place in Europe' paper in June 2018, which sets out the Scottish Government's position about the importance of maintaining a close relationship with the EU in relation to security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation. http://gov.scot/Publications/2018/06/7437
- Mygov.scot is evolving as a single point of access for simple and accessible information about public services in Scotland. It provides information for citizens on civil and criminal justice topics including tribunals, being arrested and prison sentences.
- SG is continuing to work on the programme of devolved tribunal reform to benefit efficiency and access to justice.
- Key justice agencies are working to develop a digital evidence sharing capability. This is progressing well and a proof of concept will be commissioned in 2018- 19.
- Justice partners are considering the Evidence and Procedure Review recommendations as regards a new model for summary criminal justice business. Meantime, SCTS are planning to pilot a new Sheriff Court Summary Practice Note, the output of which will further inform future direction.
New Activity for 2018/19
- Following Lord Bracadale's review, the Scottish Government will consult on new hate crime laws that are fit for 21st-century Scotland.
- A Consultation on the Scottish Law Commission's Report on Defamation will be published with a view to legislating thereafter.
- The Scottish Government will respond to the previous consultation on the reform of succession law and consult further on fresh proposals.
- Work will continue on family law reforms following the consultation in this area.
- The Scottish Government will support the proposals in John Finnie's Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill to remove a current defence for parents in relation to the use of physical punishment.
- A Genital Mutilation Bill will be introduced to strengthen the protection of women and girls from this form of gender-based violence. We will also consult with communities to understand what further protections may be helpful.
- To modernise and improve proportionality in the disclosure system, a new bill will be introduced to strike the right balance between safeguarding and assisting people with convictions get back to work. We will provide a digital way to improve safeguarding and access disclosures that is more responsive to Scotland's people.
- Following a consultation, work will continue to reform the system for obtaining legal gender recognition.
- A consultation on the future of civil partnership in Scotland, with a view to bringing forward legislation will launch later this year.
- A Biometric Data Bill will be introduced to take forward the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on the Use of Biometric Data, chaired by John Scott QC.
- SG and partners will continue to work to understand the impact of Brexit on the justice portfolio and protect Scottish interests.