Email received by the editor of Scots Law News on 17 March 2007:
Dear Professor MacQueen,I thought you might be interested in a scenario involving an analysis provided by Professor Thomson and yourself in your book Contract Law in Scotland (2000).At page 42 – paragraph 2.15 – the formation of contract through the use of automatic vending machines is considered.I have recently cited your views in dispute with Edinburgh Council over a penalty parking charge.I noticed that the ‘timer’ starts running on Edinburgh’s ‘ticket voucher issuing machines’ not from the moment that the consumer presses the green ‘accept’ button but, rather, from the moment the first coin is inserted into the machine.Using your analyses of the situation with vending machines I argued that – on either analysis – the Council could not charge prior to my acceptance which I suggested occurs at the moment the green accept button is pressed. (There is, for example, the option of refund up to that point).The Council have accepted my appeal and, in light of my argument – based on paragraph 2.15 – are looking into the operation of their ticket vending machines.Yours,John E Gynn
Scots Law News is grateful to Barry Winetrobe of Napier University for drawing our attention in February 2007 to his discovery that the Faculty of Advocates had in September 2006 upheld the complaint made by Barbara Doig, a key Scottish Executive witness at the Holyrood Inquiry, against counsel to the inquiry, John Campbell QC (see previously No 464). The consequences of that conclusion are however not known. See further Comment #22 (made by Barry Winetrobe) to this story in Scotland on Sunday for 18 February 2007 – http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=262952007.
The Scottish Executive announced on 12 February 2007 that the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill is to head a wide-ranging review of Scotland’s civil courts and the way they work. The review is aimed at ensuring that the civil justice system continues to provide an effective and efficient service for any individuals, families, communities and businesses who have cause to use it. The review will provide a detailed examination of a number of areas including:
Making sure that cases are dealt with at the right level of the court system The way civil cases are handled and the time it takes to resolve them, particularly those cases where small sums are involved The current assumption that criminal cases get priority over civil cases How civil cases progress through the courts and who should be in control of the process