What can you legally do in Scotland at what age?

With 16 year olds being allowed to vote in the recent Scottish Independence Referendum I was interested to read an article containing information (last updated on 23 September 2014) about some of the things you can do at certain ages in Scotland- this list is not exhaustive and any opinions voiced are entirely my own.

From age 2 you must:

Pay a child fare on most flights.

At 3 you can:

Start pre-school education.

At 5 you can:

Start full-time education at ‘school commencement date’ (usually in August) if 5 by ‘appropriate latest date’ (usually by end of following February. In France and Spain children do not start compulsory schooling until 6 and in Sweden compulsory schooling does not start until a child is 7.

At 7 you can:

Take money out of a National Savings Account and buy and sell National Savings Certificates.

At 8 you can:

Be found guilty of a criminal offence. There has been argument that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 12 but at the moment it remains at 8. In England & Wales it is age 10.

At 11 you can:

Get a free Young Scot National Entitlement Card which makes available discounts in a range of shops and offers deals on certain services and travel.

At 12 you can:

Make a Will.

Consult a solicitor and take a case to court.

Be the subject of an Anti-social Behaviour Order.

Make a freedom of information request from a local authority.

Register as an organ donor without parental/guardian consent.

At 13 you can:

Be employed to do light work specified in and subject to the local authority bylaws where you live (e.g. your local newspaper shop to do a paper round).

At 14 you can:

Get a job on a Saturday for up to 5 hours and for no more than 2 hours on school days (not before 7am or after 7pm). During school holidays you can work an overall weekly limit of 25 hours. You should not work for more than 4 hours in one day without 1 hour break.

At 15 you can:

Work up to 8 hours per day and 35 hours per week during school holidays.

At 16 you can:

Get married.

Enter into a civil partnership.

Consent to lawful sexual intercourse. In Spain until recently the age of sexual consent was 13 but it has now been raised to 16. In Germany it is 14.

Apply for your own home through your local council.

Buy wine, beer, cider or perry to drink in a restaurant only with a meal.

Choose your own GP.

Leave school. If you are 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave after 31 May of that year and if you are 16 between 1 October and the last day of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Buy a National lottery ticket.

Drive a moped.

Join the armed forces, but not to train as an officer and you will also need parental consent if you are under the age of 18. You can apply from the age of 15 years 9 months. The UK is the only country in Europe and the only member of Nato which routinely recruits people under the age of 18.

Buy a pet-you can own a pet before you’re 16 but you can’t buy one yourself without a parent/guardian being present until you’re 16.

Join a ScotWest credit union.

At 17 you can:

Hold a licence to drive a car. In most other European countries it is 18. In Gibraltar it is 19.

Hold a private pilot’s licence.

Give blood.

At 18 you can:

Vote in a general election.

Stand for election as a local councillor, MP or MSP.

Serve as a juror.

Be tattooed.

Buy and be served alcohol. In the USA you cannot buy or be served alcohol until you are 21.

At 21 you can:

Stand in European parliamentary elections as an MEP.

Hold a licence to drive any vehicle including large goods and passenger-carrying vehicles.

Be sent to an adult prison.

Of course there are certain things under Scots law which you can do legally without any age restriction for example, choose any religion to follow, be employed as a performer, be called as a witness and make a complaint under the Equality Act. However you have to have “sufficient understanding” –that is a grasp of the consequences, a good appreciation of the issues and overall seem to be responsible-otherwise the authorities can intervene.

Certainly looking at these age “categories” is not just informative but raises questions. Are we sending our children to school too early , bogging them down with reading exercises instead of allowing them to play peacefully in a sandpit? Should the age of criminal responsibility be raised from 8 ? Is it fair to label children as criminals at such a young age? Can we justify recruiting 16 year olds to our armed forces ? Lets face it at 16 young people are banned from buying the most violent films and video games. Food for thought.

Book Review – The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

Last week our book club met to chat about The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain. This was my book suggestion. It is a charming fable about the power of a hat that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through French life in the Mitterrand years and it proved to be a popular choice with the group.

In November 1986 , 5 years into Francois Mitterrand’s 16 years reign as President of France , an ordinary accountant Daniel Mercier treats himself to a “bachelor evening” while his wife and son are away. Sitting in a restaurant indulging in oysters and a splendid bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse, Daniel can hardly believe his eyes when President Mitterrand and two of his associates sit down to eat at the table next to him.

After the presidential party leaves Daniel discovers that the President has left behind his black felt hat. Daniel perhaps emboldened by the wine he has drunk walks out of the restaurant wearing it. But this is no ordinary hat. Confidence that Daniel did not know he possessed soon comes out in unexpected ways. He criticises a superior at a meeting and gets promoted.

The hat is passed along by mishap and soon finds a new female owner, Fanny Marquant ,who is trapped in a long and unfulfilling love affair with a married man. When wearing the hat Fanny sees that being the other woman is not full of romance and secret meetings and she has the clarity to end her affair. She realises that the hat has given her this insight and that in turn she must pass the hat on to someone else.

The iconic item of headgear plays with the life of two further characters, a retired perfumer who rediscovers his genius and a ghastly right wing bore who suddenly becomes aware that all his friends are ghastly right wing bores, stops reading Le Figaro and starts reading Liberation. The hat changes the fortunes of all who possess it and eventually returns to its original owner in a unique way.

Can a hat change people’s destiny? Is this or is this not an allegory of power? While we wrestled with these questions we all agreed that we enjoyed the details of the book. Laurain captures each character quickly in a clever, colourful style with many subtle meanings. The short novel is shot through with a delicious sense of humour recreating vividly the everyday life of an era, being very much a hymn to la vie Parisienne in the 1980s.

That said the novel can simply be appreciated for its originality and fabulistic narrative. It acts as a reminder that many of life’s most important events can be the result of tiny details that shape our future in unexpected ways.

74% of Britons Admit They Didn’t Change the Locks after Their Last Move

Experts have confirmed that buying or selling a house is one of life’s major stresses. An in-depth study of 2000 adults commissioned earlier this year by Estatesdirect.com discovered a large percentage found the hassles of moving home were greater than the tensions experienced when losing a job, becoming a parent or planning a wedding.

Certainly moving home has its anxious moments. You find a house and have a buyer for your flat and that is often the easiest part. Buying and selling at the same time often means that you have to deal with two sets of estate agents, two sets of solicitors and different lenders. Issues may come up with the paperwork which could derail the whole process. You don’t want to get too attached to the place you are buying in case everything falls through .On the other hand you worry about your new home as it is the biggest purchase of your life- yet you have only seen it once and you would have spent longer deliberating over what shoes to buy. And then there is the packing up, the actual removal , the unpacking and looking for the kettle.

In the midst of all this with so much to organise and remember it is easy to overlook some important tasks, chief among which is getting your locks changed when you move into your new property. A recent survey by Keytec Locksmiths has shown that less than 30% of homeowners change their locks after moving home potentially leaving them vulnerable to break-ins by other keyholders.

There is little doubt that a home insurance claim may be at risk of being turned down if a spare set of keys was used by a previous owner or tradesman to commit burglary as generally speaking there must be clear signs of breaking and entering in order for a claim to be valid. And it is also not just the insurance implications to think about –there is also the possibility that you could be putting yourself and your family in danger as even if you completely trust the sellers there really is no telling how many sets of keys they have given to friends and relatives or lost over the years and forgotten about.

According to Home Office statistics you are almost twice as likely to be broken into in the first year after moving house and nearly three times as likely in comparison to occupiers who have been in their house for over 10 years and although the Office of National Statistics shows the number of recorded burglaries has been gradually falling year on year for the past decade, nonetheless it is one of the most commonly recorded crimes.

Compared to the overall cost of buying a property the cost of changing locks is likely to be very modest and can provide security and peace of mind. With so many expenses and arrangements to think about in any house move it is hardly surprising that home security is not always prioritised in the way it should be. As said before for most people buying a house is the largest purchase they will ever make so it seems sensible to spend a few more pounds just for the peace of mind of knowing who has a key to it.

What do you think? Did you get the locks changed after your last move?