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The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on the 17th March 2016. As most readers will be aware, the new Act contains many changes to the law of agricultural tenancies. These changes arise from the recommendations of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group to improve relationships between agricultural landlords and tenants and to increase the supply of let land. Many criticised the introduction of agricultural tenancy legislation into the Land Reform Bill which was originally meant to relate to wider land reform issues. The criticism centred on the fact that it would have been better if the recommendations had been introduced in a “standalone” Act drafted with sufficient time to give detailed thought to what are quite complex legislative changes and which would have received more detailed scrutiny.

Introduction to the Bill

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill (herein referred to as “the Bill”) was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on the 7th October 2015 with the stated aim of providing a clearer and simpler tenancy regime for the modern private rented sector. This will be facilitated by the introduction of the private residential tenancy which will replace the existing assured tenancy and short assured tenancy. The new tenancy seeks to strengthen the position of tenants whilst providing apposite safeguards for landlords in the sector. The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee is the lead committee for the bill and met on 10th February 2016 as part of the stage 2 process. This bulletin will highlight some of the key features of the bill and particularly some of the stage 2 amendments.

By Anya Duncan, Partner

Background

In 2011, Theresa May (the then Minister for Women and Equalities) noted in the House of Commons that the coalition government was “committed to working with business to develop a voluntary approach to gender pay reporting in the private and voluntary sector”. Following this, later that year, the Government launched a voluntary gender equality reporting initiative called “Think, Act, Report” which sought to encourage voluntary pay reporting in the private and voluntary sector. Although more than 200 businesses signed up to the initiative by August 2014 only four had published any gender pay gap information.

By David Chalmers, Partner

The “Living Wage” is a measure of income considered necessary for an acceptable standard of living. As at 31 October 2015, the campaign group the Living Wage Foundation, calculated the UK living wage at £8.25 per hour and the London living wage at £9.40 per hour. The concept of a living wage has received a great deal of publicity in recent years, with many employers choosing to go beyond legal minimums and remunerating low paid staff by reference to these rates.

Section 154 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (“IHTA”) provides an important but often forgotten Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) exemption for members of the armed services. Following the enactment of the Finance Act 2015, the exemption has been extended to cover other individuals who work in emergency situations. This note explains the key changes so that you can keep this valuable exemption in mind when discussing sensitive matters with your clients.

By Eric Gilligan, Partner and head of Stronachs’ employment team

This week was supposed to see what has become known as the “Gay cake case” reach the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland but following an intervention by the Northern Irish Attorney General the case has now been postponed to March.

Many will recall the controversy over the Ashers bakery refusal to bake a cake for a homosexual customer, Mr Lee which was to bear the caption “Support Gay Marriage”. The County Court in Northern Ireland decided (in a case backed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland) that the treatment of the customer amounted to direct discrimination on grounds of his sexual orientation.

On 7th August 2015 I wrote a blog on changes to Judicial Review that have been introduced as part of the extensive Court Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

By Euan Smith, Associate

Mr Farnan, former International and National Marketing Director, is behind at half-time in his claims against Sunderland Association Football Club. The High Court (England and Wales) have recently dismissed his claim for wrongful dismissal finding that his breaches of confidentiality were serious enough to justify dismissal without notice.

As is the case in Scotland, wrongful dismissal claims can be brought in the ordinary civil courts, as well as in the Employment Tribunal. This has the advantage of escaping the cap on any award (£25,000) which would otherwise exist and the nature of the claims in both jurisdictions are the same. The courts are simply concerned with whether the terms of the contract have been breached and, unlike in unfair dismissal claims, they are not concerned with questions of reasonableness/fairness.

Chambers UK 2018

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