The East of Scotland branch has suffered a long period of inactivity but through the efforts of Branch Secretary Gerald Murphy and his team at Chamberlain McBain we were delighted to arrange a meeting at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 16 May 2016.
David Ancliffe FCICM welcomed members and guests to the meeting and gave a brief outline on the benefits of attending meetings for the face to face networking even in these days of social media alternatives. He then introduced the guest speakers the Rt. Hon. Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and Kerry Trewern Deputy Director ECPLS, Edinburgh University.
Lady Dorrian was appointed as Lord Justice Clerk on 26 April, being the first woman in Scotland to hold this position. Members and guests heard Lady Dorian give an insight into the changes facing the court system following the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. The main area touched upon in this presentation was the abolition of the Small Claims and Summary Cause actions and the new ‘Simplified Procedure’. This new process will deal with all money claim cases under £5,000. Whist it was anticipated that the new system would be in place in early 2016, it appears this will not happen until November 2016, once the final procedures have been approved and courts staff and users brought up to speed.
The main changes, in terms of the new procedure, relate to timeframes in an effort to cut down the time spent on each case; moves to try and solve cases out of court with mediation; a shift from the current paper based system to one online and even simplifying the legal jargon. It was noted by Lady Dorian that the pursuer would become the ‘claimant’, and the defender the ‘responding party’, which she believed was complicating the matter further as everyone already knows the original terminology.
We will report to members in more detail once the final procedure has been finalised as the way in which actions are raised and run will change dramatically and Sheriffs (Judges) will be more involved from the onset.
Kerry Trewern, (Deputy Director ECPLS Edinburgh University) then gave a presentation on changes relating to Bankruptcy (known as Sequestration in Scotland).
The Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 2016 received royal assent on 28 April this year and the Government says that it is expected to come into force at the end of the year. The Act itself however doesn’t seem to be doing anything exciting as it’s just bringing different legislation together into one, stand-alone Act. Legislation its consolidating constitutes of: Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985, Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1993, Bankruptcy & Diligence (Scotland) Act 2007 (only the part relating to bankruptcy), Protected Trust Deeds (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014.
The Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force in April 2015. The Government described the 2014 Act as “one of the most modern systems of debt advice and debt management in the world”. It was essentially described as the Financial Health Service of the Debt world. It introduced compulsory money advice from an approved money advisor before the debtor can apply for sequestration. Debtors sequestrated more than once or where other criteria is met, including where the trustee considers “that the pattern of the debtor’s behaviour, whether before or after the award of sequestration, is such that the debtor would benefit from a financial education course” must attend such a course. It was also mentioned that creditors must submit their claim within 120 days from date of notification of sequestration (either notice to creditor of statutory meeting or – if no meeting – notice inviting submission of claims). They can submit a late claim in “exceptional circumstances” and still only within the previous time period of 8 weeks before the end of the accounting period. Most of these changes have come in and virtually gone unnoticed by most creditors.
The presentations were then followed by a tour of Court 3 hosted by Lady Dorrian in which members were presented with some interesting facts regarding the history, process and operation of the Court in terms of both its Criminal and Civil role.
Our thanks are extended to the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland for lending us their lounge for the meeting and to the Lord President for granting us access to the Courts.
Next Presentation – Pandas / Edinburgh Zoo
The next meeting is scheduled to be at Edinburgh zoo on 5 September – at the slightly earlier time of 16:45 for 17:00. This is to allow for a visit to see the pandas (subject to weather etc.)
We are planning on having three speakers, each giving a short presentation on the theme ‘Business Chatter’, looking at insurance, alternative funding and the new Data Protection rules.