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Legal Writings Law passes Stage 3

Simplifying Scots Contract Law.

A new law that will speed up the process of “getting the deal in writing” and bring benefits to businesses in Scotland, has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking after the Stage 3 debate on the Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Bill Minister for Energy, Business and Tourism Fergus Ewing said:

“This Bill will give the legal profession, and the business interests they represent, the necessary confidence to use Scots law for transactions where execution of a document in counterpart is part of the process.

“The provisions will bring benefits to all parties in any transaction where there are multiple participants. In this way, the law of Scotland will be brought up to date, and in so doing, will promote business and economic growth.”

Parties will now be able to get their documents legally signed and exchanged without meeting at the same place, as is often the case at present.

It will also enable documents created on paper to become legally effective by being delivered by electronic means. The Bill implements recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission Report Review of Contract Law, Report on Formation of Contract: Execution in Counterpart.

The provisions will not only be helpful to Scottish lawyers advising on complex contracts but will also have a wider application to smooth any transaction involving a number of parties in different places or even different countries. At the moment, parties in such circumstances may choose to conclude a contract under another legal regime, often in practice English law. The provisions of the Bill mean that many more legal documents may be concluded subject to Scots law.

Notes To Editors

Execution in counterpart is the process by which each party to an agreement enters into it by signing a separate physical copy of the agreement and then delivers it to the other party (or all other parties).

The Bill can be viewed at

The Scottish Law Commission provides further background on their website:

The Scottish Parliament decided in May 2013 to accept recommendations for changes to the Standing Orders to allow certain Scottish Law Commission Bills to be referred to the Subordinate Legislation Committee; and to re-name the Committee the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee. This move recognises the valuable role of the Scottish Law Commission in reforming the law of Scotland and is intended to go some way towards improving the implementation rate of the Commission’s reports.

In order to qualify for the new Parliamentary process, the Bill must meet a number of criteria determined by the Presiding Officer: This Bill fulfils these criteria.


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