LegalScot An independent publication from www.canongate.org
Legaltech incubator launches in Edinburgh
Lowdown on Law Societyâ€™s survey
Distributed with The Times Scotland 31 March 2017
The interview stage First in a series on legal directories
How to stand among the best
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WJM view on changes to planning system
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31 March 2017
By combining a bundle of different technologies we now have the ability to rapidly analyse very big datasets for patterns
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Why artificial intelligence could in reality be a boost for lawyers It is said AI might replace legal professionals; instead it could become their best friend By William Peakin Law and informatics students gather in Edinburgh today for what is described as Scotland’s first legal and artificial intelligence (AI) hackathon. Organised by Edinburgh Law Connections and Edinburgh University’s Machine Learning Society, the event (bit. ly/2nOBFkk) will feature speakers on how AI is changing the legal profession. Students will then be challenged to develop a technological solution that addresses a challenge faced by the legal profession. Advances in AI may diminish the role of lawyers in the legal system or even, in some cases, replace them altogether, according to The Atlantic magazine (theatln.tc/2oBhZxD). It details technologies disrupting the profession. More than 10 major law firms have “hired” Ross, a robotic attorney powered in part by IBM’s Watson AI, to perform legal research. Ross is designed to approximate the experience of working with a human lawyer: It can understand questions asked in normal English and provide specific, analytic answers. Lex Machina, a company owned by LexisNexis, offers what it calls “mon-
according to Lucy Fogel, chief executive of Luminance, a legaltech startup. Luminance’s machine learning, which has been built from the ground up to understand, makes sense of any data it sees, at extremely high speeds. It helps lawyers prioritise their work by highlighting anomalous clauses in a document, saving them from having to trawl through thousands of documents to find risks. “By combining a bundle of different technologies, such as machine learning underpinned by neural networks, powered by vast arrays of parallel computers, we now have the ability to rapidly analyse very big datasets for patterns,” says Robert Morley, chief operating officer at Excello Law, the ‘new model’ law firm.
eyball lawyering.”, applying naturallanguage processing to millions of court decisions to find trends that can be used to a law firm’s advantage. A Miami-based company, Premonition, promises to predict the winner of a case before it even goes to court, based on statistical analyses of verdicts in similar cases. Legalist offers “commercial litigation financing,” meaning it will pay a lawsuit’s fees and expenses if its algorithm determines that you have a good chance of winning, in exchange for a portion of any judgment in your favour. British teenager Joshua Browder has developed DoNotPay, a free parking-ticket-fighting chatbot that asks a series of questions about your case – were the signs clearly marked? were you parked illegally because of a medical emergency? – and generates a letter that can be filed with the appropriate agency. So far, the bot has helped more than 215,000 people beat traffic and parking tickets in London, New York, and Seattle. Browder recently added new functions; DoNotPay can now help people demand compensation from airlines for delayed flights, file paperwork for housing support and help refugees claim asylum. In the field of mergers and acquisitions, the typical ‘data room’ has become a vast, impenetrable repository of documents with the potential to reveal or conceal the true nature – and therefore value – of a company,
‘Like every other AI application, predictive coding is a tool. It does not replace lawyers, but instead frees up their time for other tasks’ Robert Morley
“A landmark case last year, Pyrrho Investments v MWB Property saw the first approval by an English court concerning the use of predictive coding in document review: an AI system was trained to identify and classify relevant documents within large volumes of data,” Morley told Tech City News (bit. ly/2nlUf03). “But like every other AI application, predictive coding is a tool. It does not replace lawyers, but instead frees up their time for other tasks. It adds to efficiency in the same way that the personal computer, the mobile phone and the internet have all done within the lifetime of many senior lawyers still working today. “Indeed, AI is becoming an integral addition to each of these existing technologies.”
31 March 2017
Dedicated pre-seed accelerator launched for legaltech start-ups Fintech founder and PhD scientist aim to find Scotland’s next ‘unicorn’ By William Peakin Scotland’s first dedicated pre-seed tech accelerator is to open in Edinburgh with a mission to trigger Scotland’s next billion-dollar startup. Seed Haus is creating an angel-backed fund designed to provide the environment needed to produce scaleable startups in emerging markets such as legaltech, fintech and the Internet of Things (IoT). It has been founded by Robin Knox and Calum Forsyth. Knox, who will act as chairman, is the former CEO and cofounder of intelligentpos (IPOS), one of Scotland’s leading fintech startups. He built IPOS in eight months from his kitchen table and grew it to a team of more than 40 employees and seven figure revenues in just four years. IPOS was sold last year for an undisclosed sum to iZettle. Forsyth, the chief executive, is a PhD scientist and former financial risk consultant with KPMG. He previously led the accelerator programme at the University of Strathclyde where he advised more than 200 early-stage founders including Pick Protection, Storii, and Estendio. They say they want to enable the next wave of founders to build their startups with the type of support Knox needed when he was bootstrapping IPOS and the absence of which Forsyth has seen stifle the growth of other startups. “I believe we need to take a fresh approach to funding the ideas that could become scaleable startups,” said Knox. “Edinburgh is erupting with innovation and the ecosystem is ripe for Seed Haus to make a real difference. We chose to headquarter Seed Haus in Edinburgh because the city has global ambition and has already shown the world what it can do. But, if Scotland is to see another unicorn we need to keep innovating around how we incubate ideas so they are ready for seed investment.” Edinburgh is recognised as a leading
Tech accelerator founders Calum Forsyth and Robin Knox UK tech cluster, with billion-dollar companies like Skyscanner and Fanduel and rapidly growing startups such as FreeAgent, TV Squared and Administrate. International tech companies, Amazon, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM have now also created bases in Edinburgh. More than 84,000 people currently work in digital technology roles across Scotland, generating more than £5bn in GVA. According to KPMG’s Tech Monitor, the number of tech sector enterprises in Scotland grew by 43.4% between 2010 and 2015, second only to London (54.6%). Seed Haus is focused on building
startups in emerging markets and it says leveraging insight from data sources such as CB Insights, CrunchBase and Mattermark is key to this. Critical to identifying the right ideas will be the input of thought leaders and
corporate innovation specialists such as Alisdair Gunn, director of Framewire, a leading light of the international tech sector and Seed Haus’ strategic advisor. This insight driven approach to founder intake allows Seed Haus to evolve and iterate to meet real market needs and sets it apart from other accelerator programmes. Forsyth said: “Our goals may seem audacious but we believe passionately in the pre-seed accelerator programme we have created, taking best practice from around the world and marrying this with our own insight of the unique environment in Scotland. I have often wondered about how many great startups, quite simply, never get the chance to start. “The reality of people’s personal circumstances don’t always lend themselves to the traditional startup path. If I were looking to leave full-time em-
ployment to realise my entrepreneurial ambitions, I would apply to Seed Haus.” Knox added: “I’m convinced IPOS could have grown even faster in the early days if we’d had access to a better working environment. When your business is just starting out, you have the least access to support, it seems like the system is only set up to help businesses that make it into high growth, almost when you don’t need the help any more. Doesn’t that seem odd?” Seed Haus says it will fill a gap in the market identified by the founders; specifically, the lack of resources available at this crucial pre-seed stage. Seed Haus aims to offer founders what they need to get their startups off the ground; funding to cover living costs making it possible to leave permanent employment, a place to work, space to flourish and infrastructure. The accel-
erator will operate as a social enterprise, and is applying for accreditation as a B Corp, committed to achieving high levels of social and environmental accountability. Although legaltech remains in its infancy in Scotland, investment is beginning to flow into the sector. Scottish Equity Partners has invested £10m in Peppermint Technology, a Nottinghambased legal and dispute management technology provider. Earlier this year, Edinburgh-based startup Amiqus won £75,000 in the Scottish EDGE final for its plan to use open data and machine learning to build a platform that gives individuals and small businesses access to legal information, dispute resolution expertise and a simpler, more affordable alternative to court. thisisseedhaus.com
WJM appoints new managing partner
Investment windfall to benefit law students
Fraser Gillies has been appointed managing partner of Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP. Gillies joined WJM as a trainee in 2000 and qualified in 2002. Promoted to Partner in 2010, he has grown the firm’s planning practice into a leading advisory service to clients involved in retail, housing, infrastructure and energy developments throughout the UK. He said: “I am inheriting an impressively strong platform for future growth from my predecessor, Liam Entwistle. We are well placed to consolidate our position in the sectors where we’ve
Academically gifted students from less advantaged backgrounds in Scotland are set to benefit from a quarter of a million-pound investment through the Lawscot Foundation. The Law Society of Scotland has donated the proceeds of the sale of document exchange and postal service Legal Post to the Foundation; a charity established last year to help talented students through their legal education by providing bursaries and mentoring support. Following a takeover by DX, the
carved out an excellent reputation and to meet the needs of a substantial segment of the Scottish economy, where clients are looking for high quality advice which is built around their particular needs coupled with long term relationships with their advisors.” Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie is a full-service, independent Scottish law firm, with a history stretching back over 160 years, with 23 partners and 49 fee earners at its offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. www.wjm.co.uk
Fraser Gillies: Strong platform
Law Society of Scotland sold it shareholding in Legal Post for £261,585 – having originally bought it for a nominal £20. The Society’s council agreed that the total value should be donated to the Lawscot Foundation. Eilidh Wiseman, President of the Law Society of Scotland said: “This will have a huge impact on future solicitors and generate the longest term return on investment. “The Foundation is a fantastic initiative, which promotes equality and diversity within the legal profession.”
legalscot Law Society of Scotland
31 March 2017
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon setting out plans for a second independence referendum in the face of a hard Brexit
Freedom, security and justice are key Brexit issues for solicitors Brexit, regulation and legal aid are among top priorities for Law Society members By Eilidh Wiseman It will be no surprise that the most recent survey of the Law Society of Scotland’s membership has revealed that the impact of Brexit on the law and legal practice is a key issue for Scottish solicitors. In response to questions on what solicitors believe to be important as part of the UK Government’s withdrawal negotiations with the European Union the vast majority, at 96%, of those surveyed, cited freedom, security and justice. For our members, ensuring consistent application of the law along with recognition and enforcement of citizens’ rights ranked highly, with 94% of the respondents saying these were important. Immigration, residence, citizenship and employment status were also believed to be important by 90% of the survey group, while 84% ranked the economic impact of Brexit on solicitors and their continued professional recognition within the EU as important issues for the Law Society to prioritise in its work. We will continue to contribute to the discussions on Brexit as the UK
Government’s negotiations with the EU develop following the triggering of article 50 on Wednesday, through to the implementation of the final agreement and will consider the potential economic impact on solicitors’ businesses and their practice rights, on the domestic legislative process and on our future interaction with the EU. We will of course work to ensure that our members are kept informed to help them advise their clients at every stage. The research, carried out by Ipsos
MORI for the Law Society of Scotland in December 2016, was wide-ranging and covered solicitors’ views on Brexit, legal aid, regulation, law reform and professional practice, among other topics. The research findings highlighted the ongoing concern about threats to the sustainability of the legal aid system in Scotland. Across the wider profession, 80% of all respondents – up slightly from 78% in the previous year’s survey – believed that the Scottish Government’s policy on legal aid risked undermining access to justice for the poorest in society and 77% backed increasing legal aid rates. Protecting legal aid funding was a particular issue for our high-street law firms, with 60% of high street solicitors saying protecting the legal aid budget and representing solicitors working in legal aid should be a high priority for the Society. We published an independent
‘We will continue to contribute to the discussions on Brexit as the UK Government’s negotiations with the EU develop’ Eilidh Wiseman
report, The Financial Health of Legal Aid Firms in Scotland, earlier this year which showed that some firms are carrying out legal aid work at a loss and are at serious risk of being unable to offer legal aid work in the longer term. We have welcomed the planned independent review of legal aid in Scotland and will contribute fully to the process – every person in Scotland should be able to access the legal advice they need and have equal protection under the law, regardless of financial situation or status in society. In line with previous years, our annual, in-depth telephone survey of more than 500 solicitors showed that our members believed that regulation should be top priorities for us as an organisation. The vast majority of respondents, at 88%, rated the Law Society’s intervention in firms where a critical failure has been identified as important. Other key areas for our members included inspecting firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules (74%); setting standards for solicitors and updating practice rules (70%); and, investigating conduct complaints against solicitors and prosecuting cases before the discipline tribunal (66%). This analysis of the views of our membership has revealed that in many ways, the profession has remained fairly consistent in its views. For instance, previous surveys of our membership have shown that our regulatory role is regarded as our
most significant function and, once again, those areas of our work were deemed the highest priorities for our members. However, it is clear that responding to the impact of Brexit and other key political issues – particularly on legal aid – are also considered important priorities by solicitors from across all sections of the profession. Overall, the majority of respondents, at 63%, said they were optimistic about the future of the profession. Respondents were also broadly positive about the work and functions of the Society, with considerable support, at 93%, for us continuing to represent, support and regulate the profession. A total of 85% of respondents agreed we were an effective regulator and that their membership of Society had global recognition as a rigorous and valued professional accreditation, the latter figure up from 79% since the question was first asked last year. The findings are largely positive and the consistently high figures for the Society’s performance suggest that, while there is always more for us to do, we are largely meeting the needs of our members and providing the services and support they are looking for to ensure that they can continue to meet the needs of their clients.
Eilidh Wiseman is president of The Law Society of Scotland
31 March 2017
How to stand among the best In the first of a threepart guide we focus on the interview stage By William Peakin Legal directories are a staple of life in a law firm. With a history stretching back to the 1800s, today they are the culmination of an exhaustive year-long process involving in-depth research, detailed analysis of submissions, thousands of interviews and long debate between editors. Barely have the directories been published, and the cycle begins again. Firms that understand the process make life easier for the directories’ compilers, but those insights can also help position lawyers and practices to their best advantage. We have canvassed the views of the editors of two directories, Chambers and The Legal 500, and the central directory team at Clyde & Co, for a three-part series looking at the interview stage, submissions and how best to learn from the outcomes. First, the interview: why does it matter? “The interview stage is a good opportunity for our research team to fill in any gaps in information that may be missing from a firm’s submission,” said Mike Nash, chief editor of The Legal 500. Nash, who is also senior editor of The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East & Africa, added: “It also serves as an opportunity for researchers to gain an insight into the key developments affecting the market. In addition to those, it enables firms and stables to emphasise any points about the firm’s and barrister’s practice that they feel are noteworthy or that act as a point of differentiation with other peers and competitors.” What are the key points in preparing for the interview? “The best interviewee is invested in the subject and is happy to be interviewed by one of our researchers,” said Nash. “It may seem like an obvious point, but if a lawyer or barrister has no interest in taking part in an interview then firms and stables should not feel obliged to put them forward as an interview candidate. The interviewee does not have to be the most senior figure at the firm, or the head of the relevant practice – rather focus on a team member who can comfortably speak about the practice in question and is happy to take part in an interview.” How proactive should firms be with the directories and their researchers? Hayley Eustance, Legal 500 UK Bar editor and Asia Pacific editor, said: “We do encourage firms and stables to keep us updated throughout the year – not just during the research period but before the research period starts as well as after publication. For example, we are always keen to hear from firms following publication if they have any queries regarding the latest edition of our guides. This enables us to provide constructive feedback on the reasons for any ranking and provide suggestions on ways to make a better case for themselves next year. “In addition, keeping us up to date on key developments within firms
Each book is the culmination of thousands of in-depth interviews with clients and other legal experts and stables enables us to ensure our coverage of the market is as current and accurate as possible. Getting in touch with researchers as soon as their research kicks off is also crucial – our researchers have a finite amount of time in which to conduct their interviews, so getting in touch with them as early into the process as possible is crucial in guaranteeing firms receive an interview. “It’s also useful to keep researchers informed as to the status of pieces of work/changes within the team or new client wins, which will all feed back into their research and ensure the information they are using is the most current.” Alexander Boyes, senior editor, UK Solicitors, at Legal 500, added: “A researcher will utilise the information - or lack of, in some cases – in a submission as the basis of determining the interview schedule. If a firm or stable has succeeded in properly conveying the message it wishes to get across in the submission, then the researcher will be able to tailor his interviews with
‘The best interviewee is invested in the subject and happy to be interviewed’ Mike Nash, chief editor, The Legal 500
that and other firms to specifically address that point. “We pay close attention to the team information and work highlights a firm puts down here. It’s worth stressing again the importance of being concise here – all of that information can be conveyed in four to five pages of a submission. If we feel we want more detail, we can come back to you for it, and that’s very much what the interview process is for – filling in any gaps.” Chambers ranks lawyers and law firms based on several factors, all of which are investigated by its team of more than 170 researchers. Individual lawyers are ranked in their practiceareas based on their legal knowledge and experience, their ability, their effectiveness, and their client-service. A law firm ranking relates to a department of the firm, not to the firm as a whole. Where a firm has several departments specialising in different areas of law, it may rank some departments and not others. Law-firm departments are ranked on the qualities of their lawyers. In addition, Chambers considers the effectiveness and capability of the department as a whole – its strength and depth. These factors and considerations are judged by interviews with those active in the market; mainly clients and other lawyers with whom they work and by assessing recent work done. Internal meetings are held by researchers, deputy editors and editors to go through the research conducted and to compile and approve the ranking tables. “Clients choose Chambers because
we have dedicated the last 25 years to legal market research and recommend the best lawyers worldwide,” said Rieta Ghosh, editor-in-chief of Chambers and Partners. “In that time, we have earned a reputation for thoroughness and independence across the globe. “Each book is the culmination of thousands of in-depth interviews with clients and other legal experts. We measure in two ways. Qualitative feedback – interviews with clients, legal experts and independent market observers. And factual research – submissions provided by law firms and wider market research, including deal and case references.” In terms of preparing for the interview, Chambers wants to see a year-onyear track record of quality advice and representation. It will want to discuss examples of work carried out by you and your department and how it was representative of your and your department’s expertise. Team members who made a meaningful contribution and support provided by other departments or offices should be highlighted. Specifically, if you can show how the firm was exclusively placed to serve a client this will also count. But, on the flipside, if you are not selected for interview that is not a negative: “Whether a firm has an interview does not affect that firm’s ranking,” said Ghosh. “If there is anything that you would particularly want to mention in an interview, make sure that it is also in the submission.” Next in the series on legal directories: The submission stage.
A partner’s perspective The research interview is our opportunity to add some character to the written submission – to emphasise the key strengths of our practice and tell the story of the year gone by. Often it is also the chance to provide an update. Key cases may be ongoing when we make the written response but by the interview we can provide the outcome. What we don’t do is criticise competitor firms. There are great lawyers elsewhere with whom we work regularly. We leave them to make their own submissions and we concentrate on what we have to offer. Graeme Watson Partner, Clyde & Co. Graeme specialises in professional indemnity with a focus on surveyors, financial professionals, clinical negligence and healthcare regulatory. He is a Solicitor Advocate.
31 March 2017
Digital guilty pleas proposed
Mobile reporting of crime could be integrated with evidence and intelligence from other police technologies
After IT project failure, Police Scotland looks to the future Virtual and augmented reality technology to be used in training officers By William Peakin The Scottish Government has said that Police Scotland is being provided with funding to help it recover from the failed implementation of i6, the £46.1m IT project designed to replace 130 electronic and paper-based processes with one system. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, was challenged in the Scottish Parliament by the Conservative MSP for Highlands and Islands, Douglas Ross, in the wake of Police Scotland publishing its new strategy, Policing 2026. “By its own admission, Police Scotland’s technology is ‘slow and outdated’ and there is ‘duplication of input’. Those problems were supposed to have been overcome by the merger and the — now failed — i6 project,” said Ross. “Technology is a linchpin of the
strategy, but the single force’s track record on that front has been poor to date. We now learn that Police Scotland ‘will invest in technology streamlining processes through greater self-service and automation.’ That could further distance officers from people in local communities who just want to speak to their local officer. What safeguards can we take from the strategy that those ties will not be further eroded?” Matheson said that Policing 2026 was a draft strategy, but added: “The vast majority of information technology infrastructure in Police Scotland was inherited from the legacy forces. In
addition, the genesis of the i6 initiative goes back when the legacy forces were looking for a single police IT system. The company that was appointed to deliver the i6 programme has not done so. “We provided additional reform money in the budget that we took through Parliament to allow the necessary IT investment to be made to support the police in releasing the capacity in the organisation that is, at present, being taken up by slow, outdated IT systems. That is the type of thing that, as the chair of the Scottish Police Authority and the chief constable set out, will be a key priority as the service moves forward with the strategy in the coming years.” Police Scotland’s draft strategy includes an emphasis on mobile
connectivity, a community portal for reporting crime and recruiting civilian specialists in cyber-crime. The document describes a process in which a crime reported through the portal on a mobile phone would be assessed by officers to populate a crime and investigation log. This could be integrated with evidence and intelligence from other police technologies to find an offender and support preventative measures. It also proposes upgrading the mobile devices used by officers on patrol to give them access to real time information and collect forensic evidence, equipping them with body worn video, and making use of virtual and augmented reality technology in training. The strategy emphasises the
Tech impact ‘cause for concern’ The legal industry is “at a tipping point” as firms struggle to keep up with advances in technology that continue to disrupt the market, a report from consultants BDO says. In its Law Firm Leaders Survey, which polled the managing partners and senior partners of 50 national and international law firms, 98% of leaders said the pace of change in the legal industry, driven mostly by technology, is a cause for concern and will dominate the sector over the next five years. Technology is expected to have the greatest impact on law firms in the short term, with four out of five law firm leaders seeing it as a major factor to their firm’s success over the next five years. Unsurprisingly, technology is considered a strategic priority for 94% of law firm leaders surveyed. One
managing partner said: “Technology has been changing the world for a long time. Why should law be any different?” The firms also expect businesses to take more work in–house, where automation is likely to reduce the need for external lawyers in routine and high volume areas. Almost half (44%) of law firm leaders said cultural change will be a big challenge in keeping up with new technology. After technology, national and global firm leaders said changing client demands, generational change and competition are the biggest threats. When asked about their Brexit concerns, 32% of global firms and 24% of UK firms said an exit from the EU would have the greatest impact on the legal industry over the next five years.
importance of data and an intention to improve its quality, and integrate it with data from partners and open sources. “We will gather more information from the public, using mechanisms such as crowd sourcing to support complex investigations and missing person cases,” the document says. Policing 2026 was jointly developed by the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland. A spokesman said: “The strategy will chart the next phase in the transformation of policing in Scotland. It will create a workforce of police officers and staff who are focussed on where they can add most value to the mission of protecting and serving the public. It will see technology and new ways of working releasing greater productivity and more time tackling crime and addressing issues around vulnerability.” Chief Constable Phil Gormley commented: “Policing in Scotland has gone through significant transition; it is proudly one of the oldest public services in the world. Now the service must transform to realise and release the full benefits of being a single organisation. Local policing will remain at the heart of what we do, supported by a wide range of specialist capabilities. “In an ever-changing world, people will continue to turn to the police service for a myriad of reasons, which means it’s never been more important to understand our demand, both current and future, in order to be able deliver a service which is relevant, has legitimacy and above all maintains the trust and confidence of the public.” The consultation is open for feedback until 8 May. consult.scotland.police.uk/ consultation/2026/
A new model for summary criminal court procedure that could significantly reduce the number of court hearings, reduce court ‘churn’ and limit the numbers of witnesses required to appear, has been outlined by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS). Its recently published paper, Evidence and Procedure Review – A New Model For Summary Criminal Court Procedure, outlines how procedure could be transformed to use technology and put a new emphasis on case management. This would reduce summary criminal court ‘churn’, where cases do not proceed as planned, with repeated court hearings before moving to the next stage. The paper suggests that much of the procedure that is currently conducted in court rooms can and should be conducted digitally, with stricter case management rules and set timescales at the core of the process. Among the proposals, it says that as a general rule all pre-trial procedure should take place as part of a digital case management process. Court hearings should only be used for contested pre-trial preliminary pleas or case management issues. Special arrangements would be required for cases where the accused is in custody or does not have legal representation. In cases where a guilty plea is tendered, there should be the option for sentencing to be conducted digitally without the need for a court appearance on the part of the accused. Introducing the report, SCTS chief executive Eric McQueen, said: “With the digital age well and truly upon us, we are surrounded by technology that shapes our lives, connects us and transforms the way that we conduct and transact business online. Against this background, we have the opportunity to reconsider fundamentally how our services are delivered. “It is fair to say that our summary criminal court procedure has not kept pace with such innovation. Our criminal courts, with their origins in the Victorian times, still rely heavily on paper transactions, postal-based practices and bringing people together in a court room for procedural hearings and trials, many months after an incident. As recent Audit Scotland reports have highlighted, this brings inherent inefficiency, delay and inconvenience. “I am pleased to introduce this paper which describes what a new summary criminal court process could look like underpinned by digital case management. Our task now is to bring our summary criminal court procedure right into the 21st Century, not by tinkering at the edges, but by radical digital transformation to improve the quality of justice for all concerned. I am convinced that by having the right dialogue with the right people, we can realise that possibility.”
Evidence and Procedure Review - A New Model For Summary Criminal Court Procedure bit.ly/2o1qSUz
31 March 2017
It’s agreed; the planning system needs to change But the Government’s proposals can be questioned By Nicola Martin Scotland needs a planning system which nurtures growth and unlocks the potential of our people and places according to the Scottish Government. So, what can we, or should we, expect from the draft planning bill which is expected to be introduced in the autumn? The Scottish Government consultation, (deadline for responses is 4 April 2017), is described as a ‘root and branch’ review of Scotland’s planning system and identifies four key areas for change: to simplify and strengthen development planning; improve community involvement in the planning process; actively enable and co-ordinate development; remove processes that have no value and strengthen leadership, resources and skills. Twenty proposals are made within each of these areas to improve the role of the planning system in the delivery of the homes, schools, roads, work places and infrastructure required for Scotland to prosper. Scottish Government recognises that a plan-led system
continues to offer the best method of effective land use planning, but invites comments on the proposals for the ways this system can be improved. Suggestions which have been tabled for improving community involvement include the introduction of community led plans, the use of social media and exploring mechanisms to engage young people in the development plan process for the spaces they live, work and play in. Few would argue these aren’t worthwhile objectives. However, introducing an additional ‘development layer’ could also be seen to be at odds with other proposals within the consultation to reduce bureaucracy and to strengthen the planning management process. The same could be said about proposals that a development plan should be in place for ten years before it is replaced. While this and other proposals may ease the administrative burden of plan preparation, we question how the primacy of the development plan can be maintained so that it is flexible enough to cope with inevitable change during that period. Proposals to enable and co
ordinate development include the enhanced use of “simplified planning zones” (effectively planning permission
‘Root and branch’ review identifies four key areas
in principle) for larger development proposals. To address difficulties in infrastructure delivery, the paper proposes a new local levy to meet costs of infrastructure provision which would work alongside the current method of contributions under legally binding agreements. Attempts to remedy some of these delivery issues have been made in England. The introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) was intended to address challenges surrounding infrastructure provision. However, a paper has been published to be read with the Housing Bill which reviews the success of CIL. This suggests that adopting a similar approach in Scotland is not necessarily the answer and there are lessons
to be learned in taking the local levy proposal forward. Proposals for the improvement of the planning system will undoubtedly have cost implications. I query whether the system would be capable of delivering the required changes without raising the costs of planning applications as is proposed, given the prevalence of local authority austerity measures. On the other hand, introducing fees for making an appeal, which is also proposed, may have implications for the fair operation of administrative justice. Whatever is included in the draft bill, it is agreed that the planning system needs to change. This consultation is key, and we at WJM are ready for the next step.
Nicola Martin is an Associate at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP and can be contacted at njm@wjm. co.uk WJM has offices at: 302 St Vincent Street Glasgow G2 5RZ Tel: 0141 248 3434 The Capital Building 12/13 St Andrew Square Edinburgh EH2 2AF Tel: 0131 524 1500 The Green House Beechwood Park North Inverness IV2 3BL Tel: 01463 234 445
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EDINBURGH T: 0131 524 1500
INVERNESS T: 01463 234445