The Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee has today, Wednesday 28 May 2014, launched a call for written evidence as part of its Stage 1 consideration of the Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Bill. This Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament, by the Scottish Government on Wednesday 14 May 2014.
This is the first Bill to be known as a Scottish Law Commission Bill.
The Bill implements the vast majority of the legislative recommendations contained in the SLC Report on Formation of Contract: Execution in Counterpart.
The Bill will make two changes to Scots law and practice. First, it clarifies that a document which is to be signed by two or more parties can be “executed in counterpart”, i.e. that each party can sign its own copy of the document, which will then be delivered to the other party or parties (or a nominee such as a solicitor who would be responsible for taking delivery on behalf of the parties). Secondly, the Bill will expressly permit delivery of paper legal documents by electronic means, meaning that, where delivery is needed for a document to take full legal effect electronic delivery will suffice. This is aimed at resolving the current doubt as to whether faxing or emailing a copy of a signed paper document can make it legally effective.
Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on the provisions of the Bill. Those submitting evidence should feel free to address any, or all, of the policy issues contained in the Bill. A copy of the Bill, and its accompanying documents, are available on the Scottish Parliament’s website at:
Committee’s Call for evidence
The Committee invites all interested parties to submit written evidence on the Bill, setting out your views on the provisions of the Bill. It would be helpful if written submissions could address the following questions:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the approach taken in the Bill? Are there any provisions not included in the Bill which you considered should be?
- How will the Bill improve the process of the execution of legal documents in Scotland?
- Do you consider that the Bill will precipitate an increase in the use of Scots Law to govern transactions?
- What are the financial implications of the Bill?
- Are there any equality issues arising from the Bill?
- What is your view of the potential environmental impact of the Bill?
How to submit your evidence
Submissions should be limited to no more than eight pages of A4. Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to the following email address: DPLR.Committee@scottish.parliament.uk
Before submitting your evidence please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees (see below).
Responses can also be sent by post to:
Clerk to the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee
The closing date for receipt of submissions is 6pm on Monday 14 July.
For Committee information, contact:
Euan Donald: 0131 348 5212
Liz White: 0131 348 5175
Daren Pratt: 0131 348 6282
For media information, contact:
Kirsty Rimmer: 0131 348 6269
Policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees
This information lets you know how committees of the Scottish Parliament will deal with any information sent in response to calls for evidence and any subsequent correspondence.
Most people who submit evidence want it to be put in the public domain. In addition, the committees of the Scottish Parliament are committed to being open in their dealings in accordance with the Scottish Parliament’s founding principles.
Our normal practice is to publish all relevant evidence that is sent to us on our website and we may also include it in the hard copy of any committee report. Therefore, if you wish your evidence to be treated as confidential, or for your evidence to be published anonymously, please contact the Clerk to the Committee, before you submit your evidence.
You should be aware that it is for the relevant committee to decide whether the evidence can be accepted on the basis that it will be seen in full by the committee but will not be published, or will be published in edited form or anonymously. See section on “Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002” below.
There are a few situations where we do not publish all the evidence sent to us. This may be for practical reasons: for example, where the number of submissions we receive does not make this possible or where we receive a large number of submissions in very similar terms. In that case, we would normally publish only a list of the names of people who have submitted evidence.
In addition, there may be a few situations where we may not choose to publish your evidence or have to edit it before publication for legal reasons.
Data Protection Act 1998
The Parliament must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This affects what information about living people (personal data and sensitive personal data) we can make public.
Your evidence may contain personal data or sensitive personal data relating to you. In line with our normal practice, we will usually publish it, if relevant to the inquiry. We will not usually, however, publish your signature or personal contact information arising in your private life (for example, your home telephone number or home address). However, from 30 May until 18 September 2014, campaign rules set out in the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 may require your organisation’s address or, in relation to evidence from individuals, your home address to be included in your submission. More details of this temporary change are detailed below.
We may also have to edit information which can identify another living person who has not specifically given their consent to have information about them made public. In these situations, committee members will have access to the full text of your evidence, even if it has not been published in full.
If you consider that evidence that you plan to submit may raise any other issues concerning the Data Protection Act, please contact the Clerk to the Committee before you submit your evidence.
Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013
The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 provides the legislative framework for the holding of a referendum on Scotland’s independence. The Act also provides campaign rules to regulate the political campaign preceding the referendum. Paragraph 27 of schedule 4 of the Act sets out requirements which must be complied with when material “wholly or mainly relating to the referendum” is published during the referendum period. This applies to the Scottish Parliament.
From 30 May to 18 September 2014, the Act requires the name and address of the author of the material as well as the organisation publishing the material. If the evidence you intend to submit is wholly or mainly relating to the referendum, it is likely that your address, or your organisations address, will have to be included in the submission.
These statutory requirements also mean that we will not be able to publish evidence anonymously that falls into this category.
If you consider that evidence that you plan to submit may be wholly or mainly relating to the referendum, please contact the Clerk to the Committee before you submit your evidence.
Potentially defamatory material
Typically, the Parliament will not publish defamatory statements or material. If we think your submission contains potentially defamatory material, usually, we will return it to you with an invitation to substantiate the comments or remove them. In these circumstances if the evidence is returned to us and it still contains material which we consider may be defamatory, it may not be considered by the relevant committee and it may have to be destroyed.
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
The Parliament is covered by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This also affects the way that we deal with your evidence.
As stated above, if you wish your evidence to be treated as confidential, or for your evidence to be published anonymously, please contact the Clerk to the Committee, before you submit your evidence.
In particular you should be aware that if we receive a request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, we may be required legally to release the information to the person who has made the request – even where the relevant committee has agreed to treat all or part of the information in confidence or publish it anonymously.
So, in the circumstances outlined above, while we can assure you that your document / name will not be circulated to the general public in the context of the relevant committee’s current work, we are unable to give you a guarantee that the full document will never be released.