Bullet Point Updates – Archive

Bullet Point Update is our monthly online resource that discusses a topical area within the field of law. Each post is researched by a member of our expert legal team and offers information about legal issues that may be relevant to you or your business.

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Please note that all of the material found within our Bullet Point Updates is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action.


  • December 2016 – New residential tenancy forms from 1 December 2016

    (in particular: new Forms AT5 for short assured tenancies; AT6 for assured tenancies; and Tenant Information Packs)  This Note gives some background to the new forms of AT5, AT6 and Tenant Information Packs which must be used for “short assured” and “assured” private sector residential tenancies as from 1 December 2016. The Bullet Point Updates for April ... Read On->
  • November 2016 – Sorry – Not the Hardest Word

    The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the Act”) will be fully in force by the middle of next month (just in time for Christmas). What is the Act for? The Parliamentary Policy Memorandum relating to the Act sets out the policy aims of the Act as follows (with paragraphing added): “There appears to be an entrenched culture in Scotland ... Read On->
  • October 2016 – Executor Appointment Changes

    Introduction  Something was said about the new Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 in the Bullet Point Updates for February and March this year. This update focuses on one particular aspect of the changes concerning the procedures for the executors appointed under a Will being “confirmed” as such by the court. Before saying more about the procedural changes flowing ... Read On->
  • September 2016 – New Regulations Non-domestic Energy Performance

    Introduction The Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016 (“the Regulations”) came into force on the 1st of this month. The explanatory note published as part and parcel of the Regulations gives a flavour of their scope: “These Regulations make provision for the assessment of the energy performance of non-domestic buildings … They also ... Read On->
  • August 2016 – Coupledom Revisited

    Background In Scotland we have the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. The 1977 Act concerns marriage between opposite sex couples and the 2004 Act concerns civil partnerships between same sex couples. The 2014 Act is rather wider in scope covering in particular: the introduction ... Read On->
  • July 2016 – New Scots Hub – Charity Fundraising

    Charities in Scotland are largely governed by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (“OSCR”) set up by the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”). OSCR’s general functions include: determining whether bodies qualify as “charities”; keeping a public register of charities; encouraging and monitoring compliance by charities with the provisions of the 2005 Act; ... Read On->
  • June 2016 – “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” – The White Rabbit & “prescription” of claims in court

    Illustration of the prescription (extinction) of claims in court Suppose poor James borrows £1,000 from his friend rich Jean. They agree that no interest is payable on the loan and it will be repaid on 30th June 2017. Somehow, perhaps in tune with the maxim “neither a borrower nor a lender be”, their friendship cools and ... Read On->
  • May 2016 – Private Residential Tenancies – Part 2

    The Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) received Royal Assent last month. Not much of it is yet in force. But it makes sweeping changes to the law concerning private residential tenancies in Scotland. This Note outlines some of the key changes that are in the legislative pipeline and is supplementary to Bullet ... Read On->
  • April 2016 – Private Residential Tenancies – Part 1

    The Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) received Royal Assent this month. Not much of it is yet in force. But it makes sweeping changes to the law concerning private residential tenancies in Scotland. So this Note outlines some of the key changes that are in the legislative pipeline and the Bullet Point ... Read On->
  • March 2016 – Succession Law Changes – Part 2

    The Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) was passed by the Scottish Parliament last month and received Royal Assent this month. Last month’s Bullet Point Update commented on some of the Act’s provisions concerning wills. This month we look at some of the other provisions of the new Act. Not much of the 2016 Act ... Read On->
  • February 2016 – Succession Law Changes – Part 1

    The Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) was passed by the Scottish Parliament last month (although none of it is yet in force). It is not one of those Acts that makes sweeping changes to the general law of succession. The most recent Act which did so was the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 – ... Read On->
  • January 2016 – Second Homes & Land and Buildings Transaction Tax

    Stamp Duty Land Tax used to apply across the UK in relation to “land transactions”. But, for Scotland, with effect from 1st April 2015, this was replaced by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (“LBTT”) under the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013 (“the 2013 Act”). The 2013 Act provides for the rules and ... Read On->
  • December 2015 – Scottish Rate Of Income Tax

    Background  Section 80C of the Scotland Act 1998 provides: “(1) The Scottish Parliament may by resolution (a “Scottish rate resolution”) set the Scottish rate for the purpose of calculating the rates of income tax to be paid by Scottish taxpayers.” It then refers one to section 6A of the Income Tax Act 2007 for those rates. Section 6A ... Read On->
  • November 2015 – Sorting Out Consumer Disputes

    The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force last month. It is largely the result of a review of the law about consumer rights conducted jointly by the (English) Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission. The review culminated in a Joint Report, with recommendations for reform and clarification of the law, published in 2009. In ... Read On->
  • October 2015 – Private Tenancy Rent Control

    Introduction  The Bullet Point Update (No. 4) for April this year said something about changes in the offing for private rented sector tenancies. Things have moved on a bit since then and the changes now included in The Private Housing Tenancies (Scotland) Bill 2015, introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 7th October, have been modified in ... Read On->
  • September 2015 – “The battle of the executors”

    Introduction  When someone makes a will they usually include in it the appointment of “executors”: that is the people they want to be in control of the administration of their estates and responsible for distributing the property to their chosen beneficiaries. The choice of whom to appoint is entirely up to the person making their will. Executors ... Read On->
  • August 2015 – “It’s not fair and we will act” – The new Inheritance Tax allowance for residential property

    One of the things in George Osborne’s Summer Budget speech which attracted a lot of attention was the announcement of the phasing in of a new Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) allowance of £175,000 (to be added on to an individual’s existing IHT “nil rate band” of £325,000) where a family residence is left to children. In principle, ... Read On->
  • July 2015 – Execution In “Counterpart” Goes Live

    Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Act 2015 (“the Counterparts Act”) General background Contracts may be formed in various ways. For example, in relation to the sale and purchase of a house, a succession of formal letters are normally exchanged between the parties’ respective solicitors until all the parties’ respective conditions concerning the transaction are agreed. Once they ... Read On->
  • June 2015 – “Don’t Take This To A ‘Greedy Lawyer!” – Home Made Wills

    The words in the title appeared in the notebook of Mrs Melanie Gibson who died on 7th October 2012. Her notebook also included other wording as follows: “20/01/12 –  Nearly 51? –  Life is shit at this time!!! Please remember.  If Anne is still alive, I want her to have my wealthy remains – the house, pension, savings and ... Read On->
  • May 2015 – Property Abroad & Death Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 “BRUSSELS IV”

    EU Regulations tend to be viewed as adding complexity to our lives rather than the reverse. That view may often be well-founded. But the EU Regulation concerning succession to property on death is welcome. Where people own property abroad succession matters on death can prove complex. The EU Regulation, commonly known as , should make such ... Read On->
  • April 2015 – Private Rented Sector (“PRS”) Tenancy Changes In The Offing

    enancies (like people) come in all shapes and sizes. But when it comes to PRS tenancies they are usually either ‘assured’ tenancies or ‘short assured’ tenancies (both under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988). That’s a bit of an over-simplification. Some PRS tenancies aren’t either ‘assured’ or ‘short assured’. For example, a tenancy where the landlord is ... Read On->
  • March 2015 – Joker George & “Deeds of Variation”

    One of the things the Chancellor, George Osborne, said in his Budget speech on 18th March was: “I can also tell the House that we will conduct a review on the avoidance of inheritance tax through the use of deeds of variation. It will report by the autumn. We will seek a wide range of views.” This ... Read On->
  • February 2015 – Generous George; Surviving Spouses; & ISAs (INDIVIDUAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS)

    Some key points about the current regime for ISAs “Individual savings accounts” – generally referred to as “ISAs” – were introduced by Gordon Brown in 1999. The general idea was encouraging savings by providing that, subject to modest limits, funds invested in ISAs could grow free of income tax (“IT”) and capital gains tax (“CGT”). Such ... Read On->
  • January 2015 – Continuing The Conversation

    Many will be aware of the powers of attorney advertising campaign with the catch-phrase “start the conversation”. The campaign encourages people to think about granting “powers of attorney”. This Note first says something about powers of attorney generally. It then turns (with somewhat strained humour) to the question of continuing – and ending – a ... Read On->
  • December 2014 – Explosive…or Not? The Programme for Government 2014-2015

    The First Minister’s first Programme for Government   The First Minister’s announcement of the included, in particular (emphases added): “We also plan to consult in the coming year on further legislation on Succession which will aim to radically overhaul the current law in this area. As part of this modernisation the distinction between movable [i.e. in broad terms ... Read On->
  • November 2014 – “GAAR or GRRR?”

    George Osborne The Chancellor of the Exchequer when opening the Budget on 21st March 2012, said: “The Government will … accept the recommendation of the Aaronson Report that a General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) targeted at artificial and abusive tax avoidance schemes would improve the UK’s ability to tackle tax avoidance while maintaining the attractiveness of the UK ... Read On->
  • October 2014 – No More Bags of Bags

    Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014       Introduction   Many households will have been in the habit of amassing supermarket plastic bags with the intention of remembering to take a few for the next shop. But those good intentions were often overlooked so that the collection of bags grew and grew. The introduction, on 20th October, of a ... Read On->
  • September 2014 – Cohabiting – Or Maybe Not?

    Introduction • One of the “Notes on Common Topics” (posted in January 2012) in the Knowledge Hub section of this website is headed up “Living Together and Property Rights”. This outlines what the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 (“the Act”) does about property rights for couples who are cohabiting (but are neither married nor in a ... Read On->
  • August 2014 – The Taxman Cometh

    Our Bullet Point Update for April 2013 touched on “taxes yet to come”. In particular, it mentioned that under the Scotland Act 2012, the Scottish Parliament would take over responsibility for “Stamp Duty Land Tax” – the current UK tax on “land transactions” (most commonly buying a flat or house). This “tax yet to some” is ... Read On->
  • July 2014 – Finders Keepers…New Code of Practice for Treasure Trove In Scotland

    “Finders keepers …” is a familiar playground incantation. But like many such incantations it is not wholly accurate. This Note, concerning what is called “abandoned” property, is prompted by a new Code of Practice published this month on “Treasure Trove in Scotland” (“the new Code”). “Finders keepers” may generally work in the playground but, as the ... Read On->
  • June 2014 – “ASBOs” To Be Re-Visited

    Introduction   The Scottish Government published a consultation document this month concerning “anti-social behaviour orders” (“ASBOs”). As the name suggests an ASBO is an order made by a court to stop someone from behaving in an anti-social way. The main source for the legislation is the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”).   The consultation document ... Read On->
  • May 2014 – “Legal rights”: where there’s a will there’s not always a way

    Introduction and background It is a distinctive feature of Scots law that, on death, a person’s surviving spouse and children have automatic entitlements to a certain cash amount from the deceased’s estate. These entitlements are called “legal rights”. They apply no matter what the deceased’s will may say. The surviving spouse and children do not have to ... Read On->
  • April 2014 – Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) and “mixed marriages”

    This Note touches on particular changes to the IHT rules made in the Finance Act 2013 (“FA 2013”) concerning transfers of property between spouses. (References below to “spouses” include civil partners, and references to “marriage” include a civil partnership.) Before turning to the changes with which this Note is concerned some background points are made ... Read On->
  • March 2014 – Care Home prisoners?

    When adults with incapacity (e.g. dementia) are looked after in a Care Home their freedoms may be curtailed. Under the European Convention on Human Rights everyone has the right to “liberty and security”. So, a specific question arises as to whether an adult’s being in residential care may involve a breach of that ECHR “right ... Read On->
  • February 2014 – Good neighbours & high hedges

    Something was said about high hedges making good neighbours in our BPU for November 2013: http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk/bullet-point-updates/november-but-here-there-are-no-cows-or-good-news-for-hedge-trimmers Something more is said about it here because the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 (“the Act”) will be fully in force as from 1st April. (The question as to whether anything is to be inferred from its coming into ... Read On->
  • January 2014 – Turgid documents – a thing of the past?

    Last month saw the publication of a new book for lawyers entitled Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts in Scotland: A Modern Approach (published by W Green, Edinburgh). This was co-authored by William Grant, one of our Consultants here, and James Kessler QC, a leading member of the English Revenue Bar. (Despite its being published in ... Read On->
  • December 2013 – “Start The Conversation” Powers of Attorney Solicitors’ duties

    Christmas is hailed as a family time. Advertisers are tuned into this. In its Christmas advertising campaign this year Tesco aimed at portraying the reality of Christmas for families, rather than a “perfect airbrushed one”. It focused on one family, using cinefilm and videocam footage, to show their experience of Christmas over the past 50 ... Read On->
  • November 2013 – Private schools and “public benefit” The Scottish Charity Regulator’s stance

    Charities in Scotland are regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator – known as “OSCR” for short. OSCR was a body created by the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”). So it is relatively new.   One of OSCR’s functions is to “encourage facilitate and monitor compliance” with the provisions ... Read On->
  • October 2013 – Landlords – take care! Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations have teeth

    Landlords – take care! & Tenants – know your rights! Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations have teeth The Court Department here has recently acted on behalf of a tenant in a case where the landlord had not complied with their duties under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations. In a case where the sheriff is satisfied that the landlord has failed ... Read On->
  • September 2013 – Liquor training courses The Personal Licence (Training)(Scotland) Regulations 2013 (“the 2013 Regulations”)

    The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 makes provision for the issue of “personal licences” to individuals so that they are permitted to supervise or authorise the sale of alcohol. The 2013 Regulations make new provision about the training that has to be undertaken by personal licence holders. They come into force on 8th October 2013.   Something is ... Read On->
  • August 2013 – Too much information? – Tenant Information Packs

    Most private sector residential tenancies these days are either “short assured” tenancies or “assured” tenancies”. This Note concerns (only) such tenancies. Sometimes these days one can feel in a permanent state of “information-overload”. New Regulations – The Tenant Information Packs (Assured Tenancies)(Scotland) Order 2013 (“the Regulations”) – which came into effect on 1st May 2013 do ... Read On->
  • July 2013 – The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill “Spouses” – not what they were

    The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill (“the Bill”) was introduced to the Scottish Parliament last month. This Note looks at the main changes which the Bill contains by outlining the current position and then going on to look at some of the main things the Bill would change. The most high-profile aspect of the ... Read On->
  • June 2013 – This BPU is about rubbish…

    The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 as affecting businesses That title of this BPU echoes one of Lady Smith’s Opinions in a recent case in the Court of Session: North Lanarkshire Council v Scottish Ministers and Shore Energy. The actual words of the opening sentence of her Opinion are: “This case is about rubbish.” This was not an oblique ... Read On->
  • May 2013 – An occupation of some kind

    “…an occupation of some kind…” or Smoke gets in your eyes   On the question of smoking (and more) we have come a long way since Lady Bracknell’s interrogation of Jack Worthing as a prospective husband for her daughter Gwendolyn: LADY BRACKNELL:…Do you smoke? JACK: Well, yes, I must admit I smoke. LADY BRACKNELL: I am glad to hear it. A man ... Read On->
  • April 2013 – Taxes Past, Taxes Present & Taxes Yet To Come

    This month is the end of one tax year and the beginning of another. So it is apt that tax in some way or other should be the focus of this BPU. But (with a nod to Ebeneezer Scrooge’s three ghosts) we do not dwell here on taxes past or on taxes present – but ... Read On->
  • March 2013 – Not Guillotines In Tandem But Execution In Counterpart

    The phrase “execution in counterpart” might bring to mind “the worst excesses of the French revolution” (to borrow from Lady Bracknell in The Importance of being Earnest) as suggesting guillotines operating in gory tandem. But this Note touches on nothing gory.  Instead it makes a few points concerning the Execution in Counterpart etc (Scotland) Bill ... Read On->
  • February 2013 – Estate Agents & Fair Practices

    Spring is (almost) in the air – traditionally the best time to move house. With Britain having lost its AAA credit rating and the housing market rather gloomy anyway it may hardly seem so. But life goes on – and so must the buying and selling of houses. Estate Agents are crucial in that process. ... Read On->
  • January 2013 – Something On “Green Deals” – Nothing On Moral Imperatives

    Towards the end of last year Alex Salmond said that oil-rich countries like Scotland have a moral obligation to invest in green energy: “It’s not just an economic opportunity, it’s a moral imperative that hydrocarbon countries lead the way in renewable energy technologies.”   This Note does not enter the fray about moral imperatives generally or their application ... Read On->
  • December 2012 – Not A Scheme Of Merriment

    Being the month of Christmas there is, even in legal circles, an inclination to merriment. But Dr Johnson has warned that “nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment”. Taking heed of that warning this Bullet Point Update does not aspire (even) to read like a long-winded Christmas cracker joke, but some levity may ... Read On->
  • November 2012 – But Here There Are No Cows or Good News For Hedge-Trimmers?

    Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall tells of two neighbours’ annual and painstaking task of mending the wall between their orchard properties.  “Good fences make good neighbours” intones one of them – as his father did before him. The other questions that incantation with the lines: ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it Where there are cows? But ... Read On->
  • October 2012 – The Scottish Parliament and When Law Is Not Law

    This month saw the “Edinburgh Agreement” signed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron paving the way for the referendum on an independent Scotland. This Note does not pursue any of the interesting political aspects of that. But the signing of the agreement prompts a brief look at one particular distinction between the Westminster and Holyrood ... Read On->
  • September 2012 – R.I.P. Ultra-Long Leases

    LONG LEASES (SCOTLAND) ACT 2012   Generally, one tends to think of leases as having a term of six months or perhaps a year or two for residential leases; five or fifteen years for modern agricultural leases; and, say, 25 years for commercial leases. Nevertheless, in Scotland, there are quite a number of leases for very much longer. ... Read On->
  • August 2012 – Costs Of Evictions By Landlords

    Usually residential tenancies work well. But sometimes they don’t. When they don’t the landlord may end up seeking to remove (in this Note “evict”) the tenant from the property. That involves a number of hoops which must be jumped through; and jumped through in the right order. Some of those hoops are outlined in the ... Read On->
  • July 2012 – Charity Reorganisation Schemes – Variation of Constitutions

    Many charities operating today were set up many years ago. Things change, and sometimes things change in ways that could not have been anticipated when a charity first started. So, for one reason or another, the charity may no longer be able to function as originally conceived or, perhaps, could function more effectively if some ... Read On->
  • June 2012 – Looking Back – Old Marriage Settlements – With A Nod To The Present Regarding Marriage Contracts

    Old cases This month’s update gives a nod to the present but, in the main, looks back rather than forwards. Occasionally, when researching old decided cases to bolster arguments in relation to a case yet to be fought, it is striking just how much the law and social attitudes change. It is generally thought that changes in ... Read On->
  • May 2012 – The month to talk of mice and snails

    The most famous case of all time – at least so far – is the Scots case of Donoghue v Stevenson decided in 1932. A Note headed up “bullet point update” suggests topicality and reference to a 1932 case may not appear very topical. But the fame of the case is such in legal circles ... Read On->
  • April 2012 – HMRC Revised approach to normal expenditure exemption

    If you make lifetime gifts then, in the event of your death, they may be added back when it comes to working out any inheritance tax (“IHT”) payable on your estate. But some gifts are “exempt” from IHT so they are not added back and would not increase the amount of tax payable on your ... Read On->
  • March 2012 – Financial Provision on Lifetime Termination of Cohabitation

    For couples who are married, or for same-sex couples in civil partnerships, the law provides a fairly comprehensive scheme governing property matters on dissolution of the relationship. For couples simply living together (whether opposite sex or same sex) the law used to take a generally “hands off” approach and leave it up to such couples ... Read On->
  • February 2012 – Death Where There is no Will – Who Gets What?

    If someone dies without leaving a will the law lays down who inherits the deceased’s estate. One of the most important aspects of these rules covers the rights of a surviving spouse or civil partner. The rights are threefold. They relate to: the deceased’s house; furniture and furnishings; and the right to a cash sum. These ... Read On->
  • January 2012 – ‘Living Wills’ or ‘Advance Directives’

    The term ‘living will’ generally means a formal written statement by a person setting out what medical treatments they do not want if, in the future, they lose capacity to communicate their wishes because of e.g. mental incapacity, a stroke, a coma, or unconsciousness. They are usually associated with ‘end-of-life’ treatments which prolong life in ... Read On->

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