Holyrood committee welcomes judicial factors bill

Holyrood committee welcomes judicial factors bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee has welcomed the proposals in the Judicial Factors (Scotland) Bill, which aims to consolidate and update laws related to judicial factors.

However, the opportunity for the bill to clarify how judicial factors can work with the families of missing people cannot be missed, according to the committee’s report.

A judicial factor is a person appointed by the court to gather in, hold, safeguard, and administer property, which is not being, or would not otherwise be, properly managed. At present, most judicial factors are solicitors or accountants.

The position has existed for hundreds of years, with the substantive law in the area currently dating back to 1849 and 1889. The bill also repeals even older court rules, including an Act of Sederunt from 1690.

Through its consideration of the bill, the committee has come to appreciate the vital role that judicial factors are able to play in many circumstances including working with solicitors’ firms, in certain circumstances, businesses, when partnerships break down, and the estates of deceased people, when needed.

In particular, the committee has made recommendations which it believes would clarify how a judicial factor can help in cases of missing people. The ability of a judicial factor to step in and manage the affairs of a loved one is a key point raised in the committee’s report.

To make it clear that judicial factors can be appointed in such cases, the Committee has recommended the inclusion of an explicit statement in the bill that it is competent to appoint a judicial factor to the estate of a missing person.

The committee’s report also supports work to improve advertising, guidance and advice to make the bill more accessible for families and legal professionals who are looking after the estates of missing people.

Stuart McMillan MSP, convener of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, said: “Most people in Scotland may not be familiar with judicial factors or their work, but during our evidence sessions we were able to learn more about their vital role.

“We are broadly content with the proposals in the bill, which will update the laws around judicial factors that date back hundreds of years and bring welcome clarity.

“However, we do believe that these updates present the Parliament with an opportunity to go further to really ensure that judicial factors work for the loved ones of people who go missing.”

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