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Recent publicity around the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a divorce to a woman, who claimed to be ‘trapped in a loveless marriage’ to her husband of 40 years, has highlighted the differences in divorce law in England and Wales, compared with Scotland.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

As published within the STEP Journal 

Magnus Mackay and Jaclyn Russell survey the landscape of succession law and cohabitant’s rights in Scotland and discuss the potential for reform

The succession rights of married and unmarried couples were brought into sharp focus last year when the Court of Appeal in England and Wales handed down its judgement in the case of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & Others v Jacqueline Smith [2017] EWCA Civ 1916. With the Scottish Government considering significant reform of succession law, the present arrangements, proposals for change and the potential impact of the case are of significant interest to Scottish practitioners.

Employers have for many years used confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements, commonly known as “NDAs”, in employment contracts and settlement agreements. The recent high-profile scandals of the President’s Club dinner, where female workers were presented with confidentiality agreements that they had to sign before they could start work, and the Harvey Weinstein affair has led to the exposure of the use (and abuse) of such arrangements and debate as to whether they involve the improper “gagging” of individuals and allow employers and perpetrators of sexual harassment to avoid scrutiny and indeed the proper consequence of their actions. This week the House of Commons Women and Equalities Commission published a report on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, which included a section on the “advantages and disadvantages of using non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases, including how inappropriate use of such agreements might be tackled”.

In the case of DL Insurance Ltd v Mrs O’Connor, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) concluded that a disabled employee who was disciplined for over 60 days’ absence over a 12-month period had been subject to discrimination. The outcome has potentially major implications for employers and their ability to apply absence management procedures to disabled employees.

We tend to accept that sales people can occasionally use jargon to promote their product or service, and estate agents may do just that to make their properties attractive to prospective buyers. While there are rules in place to prevent misleading customers, and many descriptions are genuine, it’s important for buyers to exercise a degree of caution to ensure the description used isn’t open to interpretation..

According to the latest report on wealth in Scotland, today’s young people are more reliant on inheritances, rather than earnings, to determine their living standards and wealth. This may prompt parents and grandparents to consider making a financial gift during their lifetime, rather than after.

Immigration has remained one of the “hot topics” dominating the news in recent weeks. Theresa May came under considerable pressure earlier this month after media reports that 100 Indian doctors had had their applications for Tier 2 work visas refused due to the cap on immigration put in place in 2011. Up to 40% of the annual quota for Tier 2 visas are issued to NHS employees, but the service still struggles to recruit and maintain sufficient staffing levels to deal with requirements.

Latest reports suggest that the city’s economy is gradually rebounding from the effects of the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry. This is evidenced in a study by The UK Power House which places Aberdeen as the best performing city economy in Scotland, with the fifth best rate of growth in the UK. At the beginning of the year Aberdeen was also voted as the best location to launch a start-up business in the whole of UK.

As the city’s business owners continue to work hard to build high value businesses and adapt and diversify to place them in a stronger position post downturn, it makes sense to plan for business succession for future generations.

Chambers UK 2018

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