Sheriff Ian Cruickshank

We are delighted to share the news that our Senior Partner, Ian Cruickshank, has been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to take up the role of Sheriff at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Congratulations Ian, hugely well deserved!

We are looking forward to carrying on with the great work which was begun by Ian and a busy 2018 is on the horizon. In the meantime, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our clients and Facebook followers, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The press release can be found here.

Date Announced for Creation of Scottish Sentencing Council

A date has been announed for the establishment of the Scottish Sentencing Council (SSC).  The Scottish Government has announced that the SSC will be established by October 2015 with a view to having its first meeting in November of this year.

 

In a recent announcement the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, stated:-

 

“We want to ensure that Scotland continues to have the most transparent criminal justice system possible.

 

Sentencing can be extremely complicated… the new Scottish Sentencing Council will offer greater clarity and openness around why and how sentences are decided while giving the public better understanding of the process.”

 

The SSC will be Chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway.  In addition, the SSC will comprise five judicial office holders, three legal member, a police officer, a victims representative and another non-judicial member.

 

The Lord Justice Clerk has welcomed the progress made towards establishing the SSC.  He further stated:-

 

“The creation of the Council, with its responsibility to prepare guidelines to assist the Courts in sentencing and to describe the potential effects of those guidelines, will help to ensure a consistent and coherent approach to sentencing practice and policy in Scotland.

 

It will also assist the public, by providing information on sentencing matters and by improving understanding and awareness of the sentencing process.

 

Importantly, the founding legislation provides for a broad and inclusive range of experience across the Council membership.  This will place it in good stead for carrying out the significant tasks ahead.”

 

Legislation to create the SSC is to be found in the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.  Section 2 of the Act outlines the Council’s objective which are to:-

 

(a) To promote consistency in sentencing practice,

(b) Assist the development of policy in relation to sentencing,

(c) Promote greater awareness and understanding of sentence policy and practice

 

The Council will, from time to time, prepare guidelines relating to the sentincing of offenders.  These guidelines will require to be approved by the High Court of Justiciary.  Sentencing guidelines may relate to the principles and purposes of sentencing, sentencing levels, the particular types of sentence that are appropriate for particular types of offence or offender and circumstances in which the guidelines may be departed from.

This represents yet another innovation in the Scottish criminal Justice system. The various tiers of our courts have never been subject to clearly defined sentencing guidelines beyond a few such guidelines for particular types of offence following decisions by the Court of Appeal.  By contrast, in England the courts have been bound by detailed sentencing guidelines for many years.

 

Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Following Lord Gill’s Scottish Civil Courts Review, the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 is now in force.  The Act came into law on 10th November, 2014 and in a recent speech, Lord Gill, has described the Act as “the single most important piece of legislation in the field of civil justice for over a century.”  As such, the Lord President has now intimated a timetable for implementing the provisions of the Act.  The effects of the legislation will be felt over the coming few years as the changes come into effect.

 

Amongst the proposals is the creation of the new post of Summary Sheriff.  The appointment process to the post is expected in July 2015. The new judicial tier will see Summary Sheriffs dealing with summary criminal business in the various courts throughout Scotland. In addition,  Summary Sheriffs will deal with new simple procedure in low level civil actions and this procedure will come into force in Spring of 2016. This will involve proceedings for payment actions not exceeding £5000. Detailed rules are awaited but these will be designed to allow the Summary Sheriff to identify the issues in dispute, facilitate negotiation among the parties with a view to secure settlement, to generally assist the parties to reach settlement and to adopt procedure appropriate to the particular circumstances of the case. This potentially innovative new procedure could lead to a less formal judicial approach to the resolution of small value actions. This would be a welcome approach to cases where parties are less likely to have the benefit of legal representation.

 

By September, 2015, a number of key reforms will take effect.  The following will take place:-

 

  1. The establishment in Edinburgh of a Sheriff Court with Scotland-wide jurisdication for personal injury cases;
  2. The extension of the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sheriff Court to actions with a value of up to £100,000.00;
  3. The establishment of the Sheriff Appeal Court with jurisdiction for criminal cases and, after January 2016, with jurisdiction in civil cases;

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Latest Update

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, has recently announced new LBTT rates.  These rates will apply to residential property purchased in Scotland from 1st April, 2015.  The rates replace those previously announced in October of last year.  The rates announced are as follows:-

 

PURCHASE PRICE LBTT RATE
Up to £145,000.00 0%
£145,001.00 – £250,000.00 2%
£250,001.00 – £325,000.00 5%
£325,001.00 – £750,000.00 10%
Over £750,000.00 12%

 

In simple terms, any property up to £145,000.00 can be considered in a zero band.  No LBTT will be payable.  It is believed that this change will help first time buyers and it has been estimated that half of purchases from 1st April will not incur any tax.

 

LBTT is calculated on the balance of the purchase in any particular band.  For example, if you purchase a property for £175,000.00, the first £145,000.00 of the price does not attract LBTT, but the balance of the price, in this example, £30,000.00, will attract LBTT  of £600.00.  Similarly, if you purchased a property for £275,000.00, you would pay 2% on the balance of the price up to £250,000.00 (£105,000.00 at 2% = £2,100.00) plus 5% on the remaining balance of the price up to £275,000.00 (£25,000.00 at 5% =£1,250.00).

 

Buyers will compare Scottish LBTT with the new rates of SDLT introduced by the UK Government in December of last year.  For purchases above £330,000.00, the amount payable under LBTT will be more than under SDLT.

 

Office Closure

The Cruickshank Law Practice will be closed on Monday, 20th October 2014 for a Court holiday.  We will re-open on Tuesday, 21st October at 9.00 am.

New Website Launched!

The Cruickshank Law Practice are pleased to announce the launch of our new website.

We hope you find the website to be helpful and informative.