ALL THE WAY WITH HBJ (GATELEY WAREING)
Edinburgh solicitors firm Henderson Boyd Jackson announced a merger with English Midlands solicitors Gateley Wareing on 12 October 2005. The merger was apparently suggested by mutual clients. The firm, which will come into existence on 1 January 2006, will be known as HBJ Gateley Wareing, and will have 57 partners and over 200 fee earners. This will take it into the six biggest law firms in Scotland, and put it amongst the largest 60 in the UK. The major areas of work will be in banking and finance, corporate and commercial, employment, construction, litigation and dispute resolution, commercial and residential property and private client services.
A Summary Justice Reform Bill was published by the Justice Minister on 26 September 2005. It implements many of the reforms suggested by the McInnes Committee’s report on the subject in 2004. The headlines were captured by the provisions on bail, designed to tackle the problem of those who offend while on bail (focused as a matter of public concern by the murder of schoolboy Rory Blackhall in August 2005, apparently by a sex offender liberated on bail a few days before and who committed suicide after Rory’s death). In particular judges considering whether to grant bail in cases of serious violent or sexual offences or drug dealing will have to take into account previous similar convictions; drug treatment and testing can be made a condition of bail; sentence for breach of bail conditions in non-jury courts will be extended from three months to a year (Naked Rambler watch out); sentences for breach of bail will no longer be concurrent with any for the principal offence; and trial in absence of the accused will be possible in non-jury courts where the absence is for no good reason.
WAVERLEY LINE RE-OPENING BILL AGREED IN PRINCIPLE
The Private Bill to enable the re-opening of the rail link between Edinburgh and the Borders (the Waverley line) was unanimously approved in principle by the Scottish Parliament on 28 September 2005 (see previously Nos 257, 418, 445).
In a further case on the compatibility of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 with the European Convention on Human Rights, an Extra Division decided on 27 September 2005 that none of the alleged breaches of Articles 8, 9, 10, 14 and 17 ECHR had been made out (Whaley v Lord Advocate 2005 GWD 30-577).