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4th January 2023
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Glasgow man convicted of attempted murder at bus stop loses appeal against conviction

By Mitchell Skilling

Glasgow man convicted of attempted murder at bus stop loses appeal against conviction

A man who was convicted of stabbing another man at a bus stop outside a high-rise block in Glasgow and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment as a result has lost an appeal against his conviction and sentence in the High Court of Justiciary.

Richard Gordon was convicted of the attempted murder of Brian Cleary after a trial at which his co-accused was acquitted. He was also convicted of carrying a knife in a public place contrary to section 47(1) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and argued that the same species facti could not be used to convict him of both offences.

The appeal was heard by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, together with Lord Woolman and Lord Doherty. Shand, advocate, appeared for the appellant and Borthwick KC for the Crown.

Intent to cause injury

The appellant and co-accused Brian Shields were tried for the attempted murder of Mr Cleary, including serious injury, permanent disfigurement, and permanent impairment by repeated use of a knife. The complainer’s evidence was that he had gone to the appellant’s flat on the afternoon of 3 October 2020 and consumed some drink or Valium. He then left the flat and woke up the next day in hospital. There was no doubt that he had assaulted and severely injured.

Mr Shields gave direct evidence that the appellant was the perpetrator. He had followed the complainer out of the flat and fought with him at a bus stop, including pulling out a black-handled knife and stabbing him. There was substantial circumstantial evidence available to the jury to inculpate the appellant, and evidence demonstrating that he had lied about numerous elements of his own account of events in his police interview.

It was contended by the appellant that the trial judge misdirected the jury by failing to tell them that they could not convict the appellant on both charges based on the same species facti. Counsel for the appellant asserted that a conviction under the statutory offence depended on proof that the appellant had the weapon with him with the intent of causing injury, since the weapon was neither offensive per se nor adapted for causing injury.

The judge imposed consecutive sentences of 7 years’ imprisonment and 3 years’ imprisonment on the charges, noting the appellant’s previous record for violence and 16 previous convictions for offences including rape, assault and robbery, and assault to severe injury. In the appeal against sentence, it was submitted that the two sentences ought to have been made concurrent.

Bad record

Lady Dorrian, delivering the opinion of the court, began by addressing the appeal against conviction, saying: “It is incorrect to say that it was only the facts showing commission of the first charge which proved the intent required for the second charge. The requisite intention, and that it had been formed prior to the actual assault, could be inferred from the fact that after their argument the appellant followed the complainer from the building, at which point he was seen fiddling with an object which could have been the knife. There was thus evidence apt to prove each offence independently of the other.”

On how the jury ought to have been directed, she said: “The judge told the jury that if they rejected a piece of evidence they should simply put it to one side and not jump to the opposite conclusion; that there was no onus of proof on the defence, and they could draw no adverse inference from the fact that the appellant did not give evidence; and that it was for them to evaluate the appellant’s interview, giving them directions on how to do this.”

She continued: “A central issue in the case was whether the evidence of the co-accused should be believed, or whether the appellant’s police statement should be given credit. Taking the charge as a whole we do not consider there to have been any material misdirection, let alone a miscarriage of justice.”

Addressing the appeal against sentence, Lady Dorrian observed: “As the trial judge pointed out the appellant has a bad record. He has been convicted twice before in the High Court, and on five separate occasions at Sheriff and Jury level. He is now 41 years of age, and the present very serious charges suggest that neither time nor age has remediated him.”

She concluded: “The jury was satisfied that the actions of the appellant had the quality of attempted murder. It was fortunate for the complainer that prompt surgical repair of his tendons prevented serious lasting damage to the arm. The appellant armed himself with a knife, took it with him into a public place with the intention of using it to cause harm, and attempted to murder the victim with it. In these circumstances, against his very bad record, we cannot say that an overall sentence of 10 years is excessive.”

The appeal against conviction and sentence was therefore refused.

Complaint against Sheriff Lindsay Wood withdrawn over lack of confidence in Scottish judiciary’s impartiality

Complaint against Sheriff Lindsay Wood withdrawn over lack of confidence in Scottish judiciary's impartiality

A complaint against a sheriff who held shares in Rangers FC and who granted more than 20 warrants as part of a failed police inquiry into the club’s takeover has been withdrawn due to the complainer’s lack of confidence in the judiciary’s ability to deal with the complaint properly.

David Grier, 61, had lodged a complaint against Sheriff Lindsay Wood with the Judicial Office in May. The sheriff was accused of a “glaring judicial conflict of interest” after it became known that he regularly appeared at matches and social events and was said to even have a framed photograph of the club’s stadium in his office.

Mr Grier was told in September that Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull had completed a report into the matter and passed this on to the Lord President, Lord Carloway.

Yet no findings have emerged.

Mr Grier told the Judicial Office in a letter that he had no confidence that his concerns would be dealt with and said that pursuing the complaint was a “pointless endeavour”.

“I am now reluctantly bound to accept that in Scotland there could never be any wrongs committed by individuals who subsist under the protective cloak of the Crown and judiciary. I reserve my rights to challenge this in England and through the European courts.”

Mr Grier was arrested with others a decade ago following the collapse of Rangers. The group were later cleared of all charges and the Crown admitted that they had been maliciously prosecuted.

Records from 2008 show that Sheriff Wood had 110 shares in Rangers, which became worthless upon its collapse. Between 2013 and 2015 he signed 22 warrants during the incompetent Police Scotland investigation.

One warrant even allowed officers to raid the offices of London law firm Holman Fenwick Willan, which was later found to be unlawful and executed “without proper safeguards”.

The raid was requested by Detective Chief Inspector Jim Robertson, the senior investigating officer, who is reputed to have chanted Rangers songs while conducting interviews.

In 2019, he said: “Sheriff Wood was interested in the case. He told us he was a season ticket-holder at Ibrox.”

The Judicial Office said: “Judicial conduct complaints are dealt with in accordance with the Judiciary (Scotland) Rules 2017. This seeks to ensure judges uphold the highest standards of professional and personal conduct both in and out of court.”

France: Juries abolished for most rape trials as lawyers decry attack on legacy of 1789

France: Juries abolished for most rape trials as lawyers decry attack on legacy of 1789

Most rape trials in France will take place without juries under a widely-opposed cost-saving reform that undoes a change instituted by the 1789 revolution.

All cases involving crimes with maximum sentences of between 15 and 20 years will be tried by courts of five judges rather than three judges and six jurors.

The new “département criminal courts” have been tested in 15 per cent of the country in the past three years. The vast majority of the cases, 90 per cent, involved rape.

Several thousand lawyers, academics and judges themselves have signed texts critical of the new system on the grounds that the pilot schemes have not dealt with the overloaded justice system and that abolition of juries is a danger to democracy.

“The popular jury of the assize court, a legacy of the revolution of 1789, shining symbol of participative democracy, is on its way to extinction,” Benjamin Fiorini, a Paris University law professor, wrote in Le Monde. He was supported by hundreds of professionals.

Éric Dupond-Moretti, the justice minister, rejected the criticism. He had, however, opposed it as “the death of the assize court” before he was appointed to his post – when he was a defence lawyer. President Macron appointed him in 2020.

“The reform absolutely does not mean the end of popular juries,” he told RTL radio. “If there is an appeal, the case is tried again by the traditional assize court … and the most serious crimes are still dealt with at the assizes,” he said.

Alan Shanks: The year ahead for Addleshaw Goddard

Alan Shanks: The year ahead for Addleshaw Goddard

Alan Shanks

Alan Shanks, head of Scotland at Addleshaw Goddard, reflects on 2022 and looks at what lies ahead in 2023 for the firm and for the wider Scottish landscape.

Like many businesses, we approach 2023 with a degree of caution given the macro-economic and geopolitical challenges that will continue to impact the Scottish and wider UK economy. However, we have a resilient client base and will be working hard to help them navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable business environment.

However, we do expect some parts of the Scottish economy to continue to perform well which means that there is reason for positivity about the year ahead.

The past year, in which Addleshaw Goddard marked its fifth anniversary in Scotland, saw the firm record growth across all teams with particularly strong performance in sectors such as fintech, energy and transport. Transactional activity for our corporate and banking teams has been very strong and other practice groups such as litigation, projects and construction have performed well.

We expect energy, transport, fintech to perform strongly again in 2023 with an increasing number of opportunities for us to internationalise our practice in these areas. However, all our teams start the year with a good pipeline of work with our three largest practice groups – real estate, corporate and finance – all anticipating good levels of deal activity in Q1 and Q2 while we also anticipate increased demand on our litigation and restructuring teams.

Economic and political uncertainty inevitably have a negative impact on many businesses operating in Scotland. This may affect enthusiasm for investment given how fluid capital is and with other developed economies offering attractive opportunities as an alternative. However, the weaker pound does mean that overseas investors can see potential bargains in the UK so we should expect inward investment to continue.

Through our partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute on the quarterly Scottish Business Monitor, we have particular insight into the effects of rising energy prices, inflation and a lack of availability of workers on many businesses. However, there are some which do have the wherewithal to make acquisitions and for them the timing may be good.

During 2023 we will continue to expand and develop our business in Scotland and support clients in the local market and beyond. 2023 will be challenging but long-term prospects are positive and we’re fortunate to have great clients who are working hard to flourish in difficult conditions

The trends that have been observed over recent years (post global financial crisis) in terms of the Scottish legal market are likely to continue and, if anything, become more pronounced in 2023 – the best work becoming increasingly concentrated with the very biggest independent Scottish and major international firms, with smaller firms finding it harder to attract mandates for major instructions, especially where non-Scottish clients are involved.

Clients are increasingly looking for us to deliver legal services in a way that offers them best possible value. For large scale, complex transactions and projects we look to combine our lawyers, paralegal resources (which we’ve grown significantly in Scotland over the last five years – as part of our 200+ UK-wide Transaction Services Team) and legal technology teams to provide cutting edge, innovative and efficient solutions to clients. We now offer career paths for legal technologists alongside traditional traineeships and we see this trend continuing in 2023.

Working patterns are still settling down in the post-Covid environment. Office attendance has been steadily growing over the last year and we now see good levels of occupancy every day of the week. We are looking carefully at our office requirements and have recently reconfigured one floor in our Edinburgh office to be an informal meeting/social space for staff which has been a huge success. We expect this trend to continue but that working from home will remain a key element of the hybrid working mix moving forward.

Alan Shanks is a partner at Addleshaw Goddard

Dunlop and Cherry blocked by SNP MSP

Dunlop and Cherry blocked by SNP MSP

Joe FitzPatrick

The Dean of Faculty has been blocked on Twitter by the SNP MSP responsible for scrutiny of civil justice at Holyrood.

Joe FitzPatrick blocked Roddy Dunlop KC, as well as others including a senior member of his own party, Joanna Cherry KC.

Mr Dunlop said: “Apparently the convener of the committee that considers equalities, human rights and civil justice matters, including debt, evictions and family law would prefer not to know what I think. Rampant hubris on my part, of course, but I remain flabbergasted.”

Ms Cherry said: “It must be a mistake. I’m blocked too and we’re in the same party.”

Both Mr Dunlop and Ms Cherry opposed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which makes it easier for people to change gender legally and which was passed by the Parliament last month.

Mr FitzPatrick was a vocal supporter of the bill at Holyrood. He said during its final debate that he hoped it would make Scotland “a little bit kinder”.

Trans people had told his committee that they found the gender recognition process in Scotland “traumatising” and that, in its current form, it meant they could not marry nor be buried in their chosen gender.

Mr FitzPatrick said: “The idea of not being able to marry as yourself or — oh my God — the pain of thinking about being buried as someone else. How could we not want to fix that, so that people can live their lives and be themselves at the happiest times such as marriage and at the saddest times?”

SSDT: Former prosecutor who threatened beautician banned from practising for two years

SSDT: Former prosecutor who threatened beautician banned from practising for two years

A former prosecutor who threatened one of his husband’s hair salon beauticians with deportation has been banned from practising law for two years.

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) suspended procurator fiscal David Wilkie-Thorburn, 55, for two years following a hearing earlier this year.

In December 2019 he was found guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court of sending a racially aggravated message to Venda Rodrigues earlier that year, telling her he could get her expelled from the UK.

She told the police about the threat.

Mr Wilkie-Thorburn – who was then assistant procurator fiscal for Grampian, Highlands and Islands – was taken to court and fined £700.

In its judgment, the SSDT stated: “It is well established that conduct that takes place in the private life of a member of the profession can amount to professional misconduct.

“Not all inappropriate, even criminal, conduct that occurs in a solicitor’s private life will do so. However, here the respondent had sent a menacing and intimidating message to a third party that specifically referenced his role as a senior prosecutor.

“This resulted in the recipient of the message being placed in a state of fear and alarm and the subsequent conviction of the respondent. The tribunal considered the conduct to be not only deplorable but shocking.

“The admitted conduct clearly fell below the standards to be expected of a competent and reputable solicitor and could only be described as serious and reprehensible.”

Thorntons promotes three new partners for 2023

Thorntons promotes three new partners for 2023

Pictured (L-R): Mike Kemp, Colin Graham and Anne Miller

Three legal directors at Thorntons have started 2023 in their new roles as partners.

Both Anne Miller and Mike Kemp have been promoted to partner in the dispute resolution and claims team in Dundee while Graeme Dickson steps up to partner in the private client team in Edinburgh.

Mr Dickson joined Thorntons as a senior solicitor in 2012 while Ms Miller joined the firm in 2015 and Mr Kemp in 2016.

Colin Graham, Thorntons’ chair, said: “Graeme, Mike and Anne are all fantastic examples of the learning and development opportunities we provide across the firm.

“Their progression to leadership roles is well deserved as they are great assets to the business and their respective teams. It’s an exciting time for them to contribute to our ongoing ambitious and progressive plans for Thorntons in 2023 and beyond.”

Aberdeen: Criminal backlog leading to injustice for complainers

Aberdeen: Criminal backlog leading to injustice for complainers

Criminals in the north east are escaping conviction due to lengthy delays in holding trials, according to one lawyer.

Ian Woodward-Nutt claimed the problem is worse at Aberdeen Sheriff Court than elsewhere in Scotland and warned the criminal justice system is verging on “collapse”.

Mr Woodward-Nutt, vice-president of Aberdeen Bar Association, said that complainers are now having to wait longer for cases to come to trial as the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service struggles to tackle a post-pandemic backlog.

He warned that as cases become more drawn out witnesses would “disengage or disappear” from proceedings.

Mr Woodward-Nutt told the Press and Journal: “It will be of concern to the public that, inevitably, guilty accused are escaping conviction because of a lack of resources to allow trials to proceed within a reasonable timescale.

“This is not how a criminal justice system should function in a modern society.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “We fully understand the frustration which the backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic has caused both for the defence community and those who they represent.”

“Having already achieved a significant reduction in backlogs on summary business and having moved back to in-court juries, the focus going forward is the reduction of the solemn backlog. Starting in April 2023 an additional six solemn courts will be introduced nationally.

“These additional solemn resources are being introduced to ensure all areas of business recover by early 2026. These additional courts include jury sittings at Aberdeen and Peterhead.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman commented: “While it is clear that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the criminal courts, significant progress is being made in tackling the backlog in cases.

“Our justice recovery fund includes funding of £26.5 million to the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service to increase court and staffing capacity. This has contributed to a fall of 12,000 in the number of scheduled trials between January and the end of October 2022.

“However, justice agencies have been clear that the recovery programme will take several years to address the backlog, and we will continue to support that work.”

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it “appreciates the impact that delays in the criminal justice process have upon everyone involved”.

She added: “Delays have a ripple effect and must be dealt with to ensure fair and timely justice for victims, witnesses and those accused of crimes. This is a system-wide problem that requires a system-wide approach.

“COPFS continues to work closely with partners across the criminal justice system.”

Roland Smyth: Hospitality skill shortages threaten economic growth

Roland Smyth: Hospitality skill shortages threaten economic growth

Roland Smyth

Roland Smyth discusses the challenges facing the tourism industry in Scotland as a result of Covid and Brexit and suggests ways to address these issues including investment in staff training, public sector support, and a focus on ESG issues to make the industry more attractive to a wider talent pool.

As many of us enjoy the festive period and take some time out of our busy working routine, it’s business as usual for most hospitality and hotel workers during what can be one of the busiest periods of the year for the tourism industry. With Covid restrictions behind us, Scotland is set to welcome an influx of visitors, especially within the capital as it prepares to host Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party for the first time since 2019.

The return of major globally renowned events like these is critical for Scotland. This year’s International Scotland report, compiled by CMS and the Fraser of Allander Institute, highlighted how sustainable tourism has been identified as a key economic growth opportunity for the nation. Figures released in 2020 showed how this sector supported £2.5bn in Gross Value Added to our economy and accounted for around 190,000 jobs, predominantly in hospitality-related roles within restaurants, hotels and catering.

Pre-Covid, Scotland was becoming an increasingly popular destination for international visitors who were spending substantial amounts over the course of their stay. VisitScotland data showed the number of visits had been growing steadily from 2012 to 2018, reaching 3.7m trips in 2018, with visitor spending estimated at £2.4bn for that year. While visits dropped slightly in 2019, tourist spending continued to grow to £2.5bn, a six percent increase.

However, since the onset of the pandemic and due to the ongoing repercussions of Brexit, this growth is now under threat due to a lack of the human resources that are such an essential element of the tourism industry. A report from published in August revealed that as many as 120,000 European workers had left the UK hospitality sector since 2019 while more than 70,000 workers from non-EU countries had also left the industry.

In September it was reported that over 37% of UK accommodation and food businesses are now experiencing skilled worker shortages, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the digital marketing agency Koozai. That figure was significantly higher than the reported 14% of UK businesses in all sectors that have been facing worker shortages, further underling the disproportionate impact being felt by the tourism industry.

Addressing this skills gap will need to be a prime focus for both the industry and the Scottish Government if tourism is to achieve its full potential and support wider economic growth.

Tackling this problem will require greater investment in staff training to attract new workers into the hospitality sector and enhance its perception as a long-term career option for existing employees. While there are a number of positive training and recruitment initiatives currently being run by groups including the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland and Hospitality Rising, more needs to be done to expand the industry’s appeal to a wider talent pool.

While the Scottish Government should be acknowledged for its previous support of HIT Scotland training programmes, further public sector support should also be part of the mix in funding future initiatives. This investment could pay dividends as these programmes can help raise service standards and improve Scotland’s reputation as a welcoming international destination.

Hotels and other hospitality businesses could also enhance their attractiveness as employers by putting a greater focus on ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues. Companies which commit to diversity, sustainability and transparent working practices are particularly appealing to millennials born in the 80s and early 90s and the subsequent Gen Z population. A recent IBM survey, for example, reported that 71% of employees believe that environmentally sustainable companies are more attractive employers, underlining the changing dynamics in today’s workforce. One hotel industry professional recently told me that the website page outlining their company’s sustainability credentials is now the one most frequently visited by job applicants.

Further investment in technology can also be another effective way of addressing employee shortages. This needs to be done in a measured and sensible manner, avoiding gimmick technology such as robot butlers and instead focusing on integrated booking, check-in and housekeeping systems. AI technology which can help address common guest queries can also be useful in freeing up staff for other roles where human involvement is most required.

Scotland has also seen the emergence of a number of new landmark hotel brands including the W Edinburgh, which is located within the city’s St James Quarter and set to open in late 2023. These brands bring something fresh to our tourism industry, attracting a new kind of international traveller for leisure and business. While they will play a contributing factor in further growing high-value visitor numbers, it will ultimately require quality people to deliver services that will enable the hospitality sector to thrive.

As the figures from recent years demonstrate, the tourism industry delivers tangible economic growth in Scotland. By tackling existing skill shortages we can maximise its full potential.

Roland Smyth is of counsel at CMS

Police officer awarded £44,000 after Celtic mug defaced with anti-Pope scrawl

Police officer awarded £44,000 after Celtic mug defaced with anti-Pope scrawl

A police officer has been given £44,000 after his Celtic mug was defaced with graffiti about the Pope.

Police Sergeant Paul McCue, 42, was subjected to religious harassment while working in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary unit at Hunterston power station, having been harassed twice before.

A tribunal determined that he found a document that read “UDA no surrender” written on a piece of paper on his pigeon hole in June 2020. The same message was left inside his jacket in August of that year.

After having discussed a transfer, he returned to work on October 10, 2020. An investigation by Police Scotland was closed in February the following year.

But in June 2021, his Celtic mug was vandalised with the letters ‘FTP’, understood to mean “f*** the Pope”.

A hearing was told “some officers knew which mug belonged to which officer”.

The tribunal said that there was not a “sectarian problem” at Hunterston, as an internal report had found, but added that that was a “semantic matter” since Sgt McCue had been subjected to religious abuse.

Judge David Hoey ruled that Sgt McCue was harassed on grounds of religion over the incident involving the mug as steps were not followed which could have prevented it following the previous incidents.

The officer he had accused of carrying out the incidents was never interviewed and no training was carried out within six months.

The tribunal found that it was “likely that the same person or persons were behind the incidents which amounted to a continuing act of religious harassment”.

The officer was awarded damages of £43,981.

New backlog courts will face shortage of defence lawyers

New backlog courts will face shortage of defence lawyers

Solicitors in Aberdeen have warned that there are too few of them to cover additional trial courts that are to run in an effort to address the case backlog.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has announced that additional sheriff and jury trials courts are to run in Aberdeen, Peterhead and seven other locations.

Ian Woodward-Nutt, vice president of the Aberdeen Bar Association, said: “Criminal defence lawyers in Aberdeen and throughout Scotland are stretched to breaking point.

“Decades of under-investment have left firms that are reliant on Legal Aid unable to recruit and retain young lawyers.

“In stark contrast, the Scottish government over recent years has invested heavily in the prosecution which now means that the salaries paid to newly qualified prosecution lawyers are double the salaries being offered for young defence lawyers.

“Predictably, this has led to an exodus of young lawyers from the criminal bar to the prosecution.

“Matters are compounded by the fact that the government has, over recent years, insisted upon criminal court procedures that are more involved and complicated than ever before.

“Defence agents are now required to carry out significantly more work and attend more hearings for the same levels of legal aid remuneration. The net result is that defence lawyers, in many instances, are unable to cope.”

He said it was “increasingly common” for trials to need to be adjourned “because of the unavailability of defence lawyers”.

He said: “It is, of course, welcomed that the Scottish government is, at long last, now prepared to invest in greater resources to make more courts available to run sheriff and jury trials.

“That is particularly the case in the Aberdeen area where delays to trial in serious criminal cases are longer than in any other part of Scotland.

“At present in Aberdeen, it is common for trials to take place four years or more after the date that an offence is reported to the police.

“However, it is utterly pointless to create more courts to run more jury trials if there are already insufficient defence lawyers to cover the existing number of courts.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We have acknowledged publicly that there are legitimate arguments for uprating Legal Aid fees and have implemented increases over recent years, alongside our most recent £11 million offer of support in July.

“This would be a total of £31 million in additional funding to legal aid providers since April 2021.”

David Fraser, of the SCTS, said the backlog “has now reduced by 12,044 trials since the start of 2022”.

“We can now have increased confidence that summary backlogs will be cleared by March 2024.”

Lois Newton appointed as trustee of RSABI

Lois Newton appointed as trustee of RSABI

Lois Newton

Gillespie Macandrew has announced the appointment of Lois Newton, partner in its land and rural team, as a trustee of the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI).

She said: “I am delighted to join the board of Trustees. RSABI provide vital services to support the agricultural and rural community, and the demand is increasing as the sector faces a number of challenges.”

Market demand remains strong as average Scottish house prices increase year-on-year

Market demand remains strong as average Scottish house prices increase year-on-year

Andrew Diamond

Lindsays has reported a year-on-year increase in the average price of properties it has sold, with the average price in Edinburgh reaching £325,000.

Despite ongoing economic uncertainty and political turmoil, the firm believes market appetite remains steady and notes that predictions of price collapses have not come to fruition.

Lindsays recorded an average price of £204,000 for properties in Dundee, a 13 per cent increase from the previous year, and for the first time exceeding £200,000.

Citing Registers of Scotland data, the firm points out that the average price of a property in Scotland in October was £194,874, marking year-on-year and month-on-month increases of 8.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively.

Lindsays believes the cost-of-living crisis and a rise in interest rates caused the market to shift from being heavily weighted towards sellers to a more balanced state, with offers “more commonly closer to the home report valuation”.

Andrew Diamond, partner and head of residential property at Lindsays, told The Scotsman: “Predictions of doom and gloom have not materialised and the market has settled down, as we expected it would.”

He continued: “The outlook may, to some, have seemed dreadful in the very short term, but has improved as time has moved on. Interest rates have already started to settle. Mortgage rates are dropping slightly.

“What we might see in early 2023 is a much more stable, tradeable market, with prices at a slightly less frothy level but with a greater ability for buyers and sellers to actually trade – to get things done. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that a balanced market is a good market, particularly if you are both a buyer and a seller.”

Mr Diamond added: “Will we see some heat come out the market? if you mean some of the extreme high prices we’ve seen recently, then absolutely.

“That’ s not a bad thing in most peoples’ eyes. If what you end up with is a more trade able position, that’ s good. There’s definitely a move to being a bit more traditional about the ordering of your sale and purchase. I don’t see that reversing in the short-term.”

Lindsays hopes that the market in 2023 will be more stable and productive for both buyers and sellers. The firm also reported a decline in the number of purchases being agreed subject to the sale of the purchaser’s current property, as more people are selling their homes before agreeing deals to buy another.

England: Number of new King’s Counsel continues to decline

England: Number of new King's Counsel continues to decline

The number of new King’s Counsel named in England and Wales has declined for the second year in a row.

Some 95 lawyers were appointed as KCs just before Christmas, down from 101 in the previous year and a fifth less than the 116 named in 2020.

The decline has been attributed by The Times to the cost and complexity of the application process and a perception among practitioners that the title offers few advantages.

Kirsty Brimelow KC, a practitioner with Doughty Street Chambers and chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “Lifting some of the financial barriers to applying for KC would be a positive step.”

Ms Brimelow said the application cost is “disproportionately hard on those working on legal aid cases”.

Of the 95 lawyers appointed as KCs last month, 94 were barristers and one was a solicitor. Just 36 were women and 14 were from ethnic minority backgrounds — in both cases, a smaller proportion than the year before.

Romeo and Juliet stars sue over nude scene in 1968 movie

Romeo and Juliet stars sue over nude scene in 1968 movie

The teenage stars of a famous 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet have launched a $500 million lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over its controversial nude scene.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who were 15 and 16 respectively at the time of filming, allege that they agreed to film the bedroom scene, in which her breasts and his buttocks are visible, on the basis of “coercion and/or deception”.

Documents filed with Santa Monica Superior Court in California allege that the actors were told on the morning of the shoot that “they must act in the nude or the picture would fail” and they “would never work again in any profession, let alone Hollywood”.

The lawsuit also alleges that the film’s director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, had told the actors that no nudity would be visible in the finished film due to the angle of the cameras.

The case can be brought because of a California law which temporarily suspended the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases until the end of 2022, Variety reports.

Solomon Gresen, the attorney representing the actors, said: “Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited.

“These were very young naive children in the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them. All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with.”

Quote of the day

Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.

Edward Gibbon, ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ Vol. I (1776)

Mathematicians think in proofs, lawyers in constructs, logicians in operators, dancers in movement, artists in impressions, and idiots in labels.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

And finally… moving to the big house

A pair of bungling burglars were caught after they called police for help transporting their stolen goods.

The couple – named only as Martin and Liz – were arrested in Poinciana, Florida on New Year’s Eve after officers responded to a 911 call from the house they were burgling.

According to Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Liz told officers that “she called 911 for the purpose of having law enforcement assist her and Martin with moving their belongings from the house… and they were trying to get a ride to the airport, because they wanted to go to New York for the weekend”.

However, officers quickly established that neither of the burglars had a connection to the property and soon recognised Martin as a suspect in the burglary of a dollar store the previous night.

Martin was arrested for the store burglary and theft, and was also charged with burglary of a residence. Liz was also arrested and charged with burglary to the residence.

The sheriff’s office added: “Deputies DID help them with their belongings, and DID give them a ride, but it wasn’t to the airport… it was to the Polk Pokey. And they are welcome to stay there all weekend long. The Polk Pokey is much better than New York anyway.”

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