Law Society of Scotland responds to Queen’s Speech
In response to yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, the Law Society of Scotland has outlined its view on a number of issues including the UK’s membership of the European Union and the proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act.
The Law Society said it is not taking a position, either in favour or against a referendum on EU membership.
Similarly, it will not advocate a particular outcome if the bill is approved by Parliament and a referendum is held.
However, the Society is urging political parties to consider how they would maintain any economic benefits and barrier-free access to critical markets after any exit from the EU.
The Society has also called for an analysis of whether the major policy, legislative and administrative complexities from an EU exit would have a detrimental effect on relations between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Alistair Morris, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “There are clearly strong and differing views about whether the UK should be a member of the European Union, differences which exist within the legal profession as well as the public as a whole.
“It is important for the UK government to provide as much clarity as possible on the UK’s membership of the EU.
“Any ongoing uncertainty could lead to businesses, whether foreign or domestic, diverting or postponing investment into the UK.
“If there is a referendum then it is essential that the full economic, constitutional and legal aspects of EU membership are considered.
“In particular, it is important that the parties consider the impact of any further decentralisation across the UK and whether any exit from the EU would create constitutional problems in the devolved arrangements.”
Prior to the general election the Law Society urged commitment from all political parties to protect human rights and to upholding the rule of law, by retaining the Human Rights Act and for the UK to remain within the jurisdiction of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Mr Morris added: We understand that the government intends to consult further this area of law before bringing forward any proposals for new legislation.
“Human rights are for everyone and ECHR is the most developed international human rights regime in the world.
“It has had significant positive impact, not just upon the Scottish legal landscape, but in helping to protect the rights of our citizens, such as the right to a fair trial, and paving the way for significant rulings such as the abolition of slopping out in prisons and ensuring people can access legal advice if held in a police station.
“It will be important for the government to consult widely on such an important matter.
“There must be a commitment to the protection of human rights and to upholding the rule of law.
“We would also call on the UK government to avoid taking any action which could impact on the legal framework of human rights in Scotland without the explicit consent of the Scottish Parliament.”