Apologies Bill receives mixed response

John Sturrock QC

The proposals for a law to provide that an expression of apology does not amount to an admission of liability and is inadmissable as evidence, for the purposes of certain legal proceedings, has received a mixed response.

The Faculty of Advocates has said it is sceptical about the law while a mediation service has welcomed the proposals.

In its submission to the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee, the Faculty said: “The principal object of the bill is that, by the protection of apologies (as defined), a culture of apology would be promoted, and resort to litigation would reduce.

“The Faculty is not clear how this might come about, or what the effects might be. The merit of such protection is intrinsically bound to its effects, which, in our view, remain to be demonstrated.”

It said there “is no convincing empirical evidence” that the law would have “the dramatic effects” intended in terms of wider cultural and social change.

In contrast, chief executive and senior mediator of Core Solutions, John Sturrock QC, said: “We welcome these proposals and believe that they will be of significant benefit to Scottish society, both as legal protection to an expression of apology in certain circumstances, and for the broader purpose of encouraging a cultural and social change in attitudes towards apologising.

“This legislation has potential to be part of a more constructive and open approach to relationships, business, governance, service provision and workplaces in Scotland, in which a more forward-looking and learning-based culture can be encouraged.

“This can help to build a more sustainable future, reduce unnecessary financial expenditure, other opportunity costs and personal distress and enhance more effective use of human and other resources and energies.

“It can also help to build a more tolerant and understanding society where the first response to something going wrong is not defensiveness or blame but acceptance that adverse events do sometimes occur, and that these can present learning opportunities. Ironically, perhaps, such an approach is more likely than a finding of fault or allocation of blame to bring about constructive change in a timely and cost-effective way.”

You can read Core’s submission to the Justice Committee on the Apologies (Scotland) Bill here.

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