Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: A new law which has been fast-tracked by the Scottish Government to close a legal loophole in domestic abuse cases came into force from last week. The new offence ('engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour')will now give greater protection to victims of domestic abuse.
The move follows fears that a court ruling (Harris v HMA) last year may have created a gap in Scots law which could make it more difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction in some cases of domestic abuse and other crimes, which take place in private.
The new offence states that ‘it is an offence for person to behave in a threatening or abusive manner where the behaviour would be likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer from fear or alarm, and that the person intends by their behaviour to cause fear or alarm or is reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause fear or alarm’.
Press release ~ Full text of offence ~ Harris v HMA case
ScotGov: Plans to raise the standard of private rented housing in Scotland have been unveiled by Housing & Communities Minister, Alex Neil. The Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill will protect the good reputation of Scotland's private landlords by improving the law on how they are registered.  Councils will be given more powers to tackle bad landlords.
Press release ~ The Private Rented (Scotland) Bill
WAG: Schools & FE colleges in Wales will soon have the power to screen any pupil for a knife or weapon. Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has signed an order which means the powers contained in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 will come into effect on 31 October 2010. Institutions will also be able to search pupils who are suspected of carrying a weapon.
Press release ~ WAG: Education and skills ~ Behaviour in Schools - Safe and Effective Intervention
MoJChanges to the law on murder contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (see press release for details) came into force last week. These changes are based on Law Commission recommendations made in their review of homicide law in 2006 and were fully debated by Parliament & passed into law in 2009.
Press release ~ Law Commission review of homicide law
LGONew powers have come into force for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to investigate complaints from people who arrange their own care.  For the first time, these ‘self-funders’ will have the right to complain to an independent and impartial Ombudsman.
The LGO’s new role means that adults who arrange & pay for their own care, or have a personalised budget, will have the same access to the independent complaints service as those people who have had their care arranged & funded by local authorities (which the LGO has dealt with for more than 35 years).  The Health Act 2009 amended the Local Government Act 1974 to give the LGO service its new powers from 1 October 2010.
Press release ~ LGO: Complaints about adult social care
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a Bill to improve the administration of Scotland's local government elections. The Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Bill is the latest in a series of actions to improve electoral administration following the publication of the Independent Review of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report).
The new Bill will establish a statutory Electoral Management Board for Scotland; and extend the remit of the Electoral Commission to cover local government elections in Scotland. It builds on legislation introduced last year to separate local government elections from elections to the Scottish Parliament. 
Press release ~ Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Bill ~ Independent Review of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report) ~ Scottish Local Government (Elections) Act in June 2009
ScotGov: New legislation, published last week, will scrap the £147 cremation fee and give greater scrutiny to the death certification process. Under current arrangements, cremation incurs an additional cost.  The new proposals will create a consistency in approach between burial & cremation with a universal fee.
Press release ~ Certification of Death (Scotland) Bill