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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.

I am occasionally asked whether or not giving a lease to someone for equestrian purposes creates an agricultural tenancy and I thought that it would be worthwhile explaining the legal position. Many landlords are concerned about granting a lease for these purposes thinking that it will give the tenant security of tenure and some equestrian tenants believe that they have an agricultural lease with all of the rights which that carries with it.

Most farmers are aware that in recent years the price of agricultural land has been far higher than one would expect if the value was directly related to the economic return which can be made from it. There have been many reasons for this of course, not least of all a shortage in the supply of land coming to the market as compared to previous years. However, other factors which have driven high values include the significant tax benefits which investing in agricultural land brings, including the potential to obtain relief on the value of the land at 100% for Inheritance Tax purposes.

The Scottish rules of succession have remained largely unchanged since the introduction of the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964. This sets out in detail the basis upon which estates should be distributed when a person dies without a Will. Critics claim the rigid rules it imposes are not fit for purpose in modern Scotland.

By Eric Gilligan, Partner and head of Stronachs’ employment team; and Catriona Sutherland, Trainee Solicitor

2016 looks set to be a big year for employers as sweeping reforms relating to trade unions, gender pay gap reporting and illegal workers are due to be implemented in the coming months. Notable cases are also set to be called before the appeal courts, addressing such issues as the scope of protection afforded to agency workers, the duty to collectively consult and the vexed question of employment status. Some of the highlights are listed below.

We are in the middle of the most extensive changes to our civil court system in over a century.

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