Wheelchair v Buggy

Bus drivers must pressure passengers to make room for wheelchair users.

Wheelchair user Doug Paulley was refused entry to a FirstGroup bus in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair refused to move from the wheelchair space when asked, claiming that the pushchair could not be folded. Mr Paulley was left at the bus stop. He argued that FirstGroup’s “requesting not requiring policy” was discriminatory.

On 18 January 2017, the Supreme Court found that FirstGroup did not discriminate against Mr Paulley. However, they did rule that drivers must do more to accommodate wheelchair users by considering different ways to persuade non-wheelchair users to vacate the space, without making it a legal duty to move them.

Lord Neuberger, the Supreme Court president, said that if a non-wheelchair user unreasonably refuses the driver’s request to move , the driver should consider further action to pressure the non- wheelchair user to vacate the space, depending on the circumstances.

FirstGroup said the ruling meant drivers would not have to remove customers from their vehicles while Mr Paulley said the decision would make a “major difference.”

Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, will discuss with the Department for Transport “clarity, good practice and the transport providers to ensure this ruling becomes a reality.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission described the Supreme Court ruling as “a victory for disabled people’s rights” and “a hugely important decision”. Chairman, David Isaac, said “Public transport is essential for disabled people to live independently, yet bus companies have not made it easy for this to happen.”

“For years, wheelchair users have been deterred from using vital public transport links because they could not be sure they will be able to get on.“

But it does seem that the driver has to decide whether the person being asked to move is being unreasonable in their refusal. If so, the drive must tell them they are required to move and if necessary refuse to move the bus until they shift.

Chris Fry, Mr Paulley’s solicitor said the ruling had fallen short. “The judgement should have gone further – there’s no right as things stand to force someone off a bus. So it goes as far as that, but not that far as yet.”

As one wheelchair user on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme said “It’s kind of back to square one.”

If you have any questions or if we can help in any way then please contact Paul Neilly on 0141 552 3422 or by email pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

New Legislation Relating to Car Seats

Confused about car seats?  No wonder, as new legislation is pending and obviously when buying a car seat for your baby or child it’s crucial that you know the current car seat legislation. There are lots of different rules and exceptions to these rules depending on how old your child is which does make it complicated.

The current law which changed in 2006 states:

All children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either

  • 135cm tall or
  • 12 years of age.

After that they can use an adult seat belt.

The same rules apply to children with disabilities, unless a doctor confirms they’re exempt on medical grounds.

Recently there have been reports in the media about backless car seat laws changing and booster cushions being banned. Backless boosters are the simplest and cheapest car seats. They’re basically bottom seats that raise the height of your child. This helps the seat belt give better protection in the event of a crash, but there’s no side or head protection. The new rules are being introduced because many experts think backless booster seats are unsuitable for young children. They argue that small children aren’t held as securely in the seat, that the adult seat belt isn’t guided across their body in the best way, and that backless booster seats offer no protection for a child if a car is involved in a side-impact crash.

However booster seats will not be banned under any new legislation. In fact the reason the law makers say they won’t ban booster cushions is because some parents need them, particularly if they have small cars and they believe that it is better for parents to have a backless booster than no child seat at all.

What is going to happen is a change in the height and age when children can use backless booster seats. At the moment booster cushions fall under the Group2/3 car seat category, meaning they can be used by children as young as 3 or weighing only 15kg. The new extension recommends children use backless booster cushions only once a child is 125cm in height or taller and weighing more than 22kg which is roughly around 7 years old.  The new rules will bring us in line with European countries such as Germany and France.

From January 2017 manufacturers will no longer make booster cushions for smaller children, only the backless boosters for children over 125cm tall.  Any changes in the law will apply only to new products, not child restraint systems that are already in use and meet existing safety standards but undoubtedly the change in law will make parents re-think the safety of their family vehicle.

The ruling for new products will not be mandatory until implemented into European legislation and is not in force as yet but is expected to be introduced in March of this year. Adults found in breach of the revised legislation will face fines of up to £500.

Lose the High Heels and the Make-Up and Make a Fuss

Shocking examples of workplace sexism were laid bare in a major Government report prompted by a London office worker being sent home from work without pay for refusing to wear high heels. Nicola Thorp who was employed as a temporary worker by PwC’s outsourced reception firm, Portico, launched a campaign after her experience. Within a few days her petition had over 100,000 signatures and sparked a huge debate about workplace dress rules. An enquiry was instigated by the Petitions and Women and Equalities committees with a report being released this month calling on MPs to review the law.

The report said “We heard from hundreds of women who told us about the pain and long-term damage caused by wearing high heels for long periods in the workplace, as well as from women who had been required to dye their hair blond, to wear revealing outfits and to constantly apply make-up.”

“The Government has said that the existing law is clear and that the dress code that prompted this petition is already unlawful. Nevertheless, discriminatory dress codes remain widespread.”

“It is therefore clear that the existing law is not fully effective in protecting employees from discrimination at work. We call on the Government to review this area of the law and to ask Parliament to change it, if necessary, to make it more effective.”

Ms Thorp said “This may have started over a pair of high heels, but what it has revealed about discrimination in the UK workplace is vital, as demonstrated by the hundreds of women who came forward.”

“The current system favours the employer and is failing employees. It is crucial that the law is amended.”

Campaign group, the Fawcett Society, told the enquiry that requiring women to abide by gendered dress codes, often of a sexualised nature, sent out the message that their appearance was of more value than their skills, experience or voices.

“Having a society where it is normal to judge women in their professional life by their appearance and their shoes is not just ridiculous but demeans women.”

“Employers need to focus on what drives productivity and enables their staff to feel part of a team. It isn’t a pair of high heels.”

That everyday sexism exists is concerning enough but the bigger problem is how to tackle it. When it comes to less overt and unconscious acts of daily sexism the line between acceptable and unacceptable, lawful and unlawful, insulting and jocular becomes much harder to define or even recognise. It is about changing mind sets and workplace culture, alongside writing policies and setting rules.

The report does recommend that a publicity campaign be launched to ensure that employers know their legal obligations and that workers know how they can complain effectively and I hope they do.

A German Prisoner of War left £384,000 in his will to the Perthshire village of Comrie

Heinrich Steinmeyer , a member of Hitler’s Waffen SS  was only  19 when he was captured in Normandy shortly after  D-Day, in August 1944. He was classed with a C designation which meant he was considered a hard-line Nazi, completely committed to the cause and dangerous. He was sent to  the Prisoner of War camp at Cultybraggan by Comrie and was held there from September 1944 to June 1945. He was then dispatched to Watten in Caithness, another maximum security Nazi Camp and at the end of the war he spent time at a camp in Ladybank , Fife.

But Steinmyer said he was only shown kindness by the villagers of Comrie which he had not expected and the experience had such an impact on him that he returned to Comrie after the war and made lasting friendships. He vowed that when he died he would leave everything he owned for the benefit of the elderly in the community of Comrie.

His Will read “I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment during the war and thereafter.”

When he died at the age of 90 in 2014 his ashes were scattered in the hills above the camp where he had been held. Two and a half years later his bequest of £384,000 was gifted to the village’s local community trust and has now been transferred to a special Heinrich Steinmeyer Fund set up by Comrie Development Trust as a separate account.

Andrew Reid from the Comrie Development Trust said “This story is about Heinrich Steinmyer’s gratitude for how he was treated and welcomed in this village and other parts of Scotland.”

“ Heinrich’s personal history is an amazing story of friendship and appreciation and people in Comrie will both honour and benefit from his legacy.”

Mr Steinmyer was born in 1924 and grew up in Silesia (which became part of East German) with only basic education. He came from a “very poor” family and worked as an apprentice butcher on a pitiful wage. He joined the SS aged 17 and was captured in a fight for a bridge in Caen in France.

He stayed in Scotland after he was released from detention in 1948 and settled in Stranraer where he found work on farms in the area. He said he would have remained living in Scotland after the war  had it not been for his elderly widowed mother in his native Silesia. He returned to his hometown  in 1970 as she was ill and did not qualify for a pension. He found work at the docks in Bremen and settled in Delmenhorst in a house which he built. He once said “It was in Scotland that I earned the money to build my house so it is only right that it goes back to Scotland when I die.”

He credited the Scots for saving his life on three occasions- from the French when he was captured, from the Polish as he was being transported and then in captivity with kindness.

I have great experience in assisting clients with Powers of Attorney, Wills and Executries and  if I can help please contact me, Lauren Hill on 0141 552 3422 or by email lnh@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

We are pleased to welcome an aspiring solicitor to our firm

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This year’s trainee Marcus Downie is settling in to his new position in our Residential Conveyancing Department. During his two year traineeship he will gain an understanding of client’s needs and have the opportunity of working in different areas of law including  commercial property, private client and civil litigation.

In the summer of 2013 Marcus began working with us initially helping with the administrative tasks relating to the merger with Donaldson Alexander Russell and Haddow. He then returned the following summers to assist with legal work in various departments before commencing his traineeship in 2016.

As a Mitchells Roberton trainee Marcus will learn how to deal with people who may be going through a stressful situation and need guidance and support. He will also gain an understanding of how to work as a team member and communicate effectively with colleagues; know when to ask advice from someone more experienced; and understand the importance of building up a network of contacts.

Mark McGorm our Partnership Director said: “We are committed to investing in our people and believe in helping our staff succeed”.

2017 The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in Scotland

In the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 we can celebrate the richness of Scotland’s intriguing history, impressive cultural heritage and fascinating archaeology at exciting events. We can explore ancient sites that date from the Neolithic era, uncover the history of the Scottish clans and taste whisky and local delicacies that have been hand crafted in Scotland for years. But alongside the epic landscapes, carved out by icy glaciers millennia ago, towering castles which have stood for centuries and mesmerising stories, traditions and legends having been passed down for generations, unbeknown to me  the Registers of Scotland ,the world’s oldest national register of land and property,  will celebrate its 400th anniversary this year . Wednesday 28 June 2017 will mark 400 years since the General Register of Sasines was created by the Scottish Parliament’s Registration Act 1617.

Sheenagh Adams, the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, said:

“Scotland has always been an innovative nation when it comes to the protection of land, property and the rights of the citizen. From the ancient ceremony of sasine to the development of legally-recorded sasine deeds in the 17th century-as seen in hit – Amazon prime television series Outlander-to our current position as a global leader in digital land registration, Registers of Scotland is unique.”

I wanted to know more and this is what I found out about the Registers of Scotland :

  • In 1248 the first written records of the ancient sasine ceremony were made. Transfers of property were originally by symbolic delivery, by handing over a clump of ground or a stone or similar object on the property itself and then registering the “deed of conveyance” in the local “Register of Sasine.”
  • In 1286 the first inventory and register was housed in Edinburgh Castle.
  • In 1491 there began the first records of ownership not granted by the Crown
  • In 1617 the Registration Act of the old Scots Parliament allowed individuals to have their deeds recorded in official records. The first land register in the world begins- the General Register of Sasines.
  • In 1662 the Records were moved to Parliament Hall on the Royal Mile
  • In 1765 the first purpose built record repository in the world was commissioned: Register House in Edinburgh
  • In 1868 the Land Register Scotland Act introduced reforms to the Sasine and other registers. All information relating to land and property would now be recorded in presentment books, sorted by county and held centrally in Edinburgh.
  • In 1871 search sheets were introduced to reduce the time and cost of searching and producing the registers.
  • Typewriting machines were introduced to replace handwriting on search sheets in 1921 with photocopying being introduced in 1934
  • In 1948 the Office of ‘the keeper’ was split into two bodies: the General Register Office of Scotland and the Registers of Scotland.
  • The Registers of Scotland moved from Register House to Meadowbank House in 1976
  • The Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 introduced the map-based Land Register
  • In 1981 the Land Register went live progressively replacing the General Register of Sasines, county by county.
  • Registers Direct was launched, providing online access to the Land Register in 1999
  • The last legal ceremony of sasine is performed as Glenmorangie handed over the land of St Mary’s chapel in Easter Ross to the Cadbol Trust in 2002
  • The final county is moved from the General Register of Sasines to the Land Register in 2003
  • In 2007 customers could register their title deeds online for the first time as ARTL (automatic registration of title to land) goes live
  • The Land Registration Act etc (Scotland) 2012 allowed the introduction of electronic documents, signatures and registration and the phasing out of the General Register of Sasines.
  • In 2014 Scottish ministers invite the Registers of Scotland to complete the Land Register in ten years with all public land being registered in five years.
  • In 2017 Registers of Scotland celebrates 400 years of Land Registration.

The Keeper Ms Adams has said “We are delighted to announce our programme of events for our 400th anniversary year.”

“RoS has commissioned, through an open competition , a unique piece of public art to symbolise our centuries –old commitment to serving the people of Scotland. The artwork, like our registers, will be publicly available to view and will be held for the people of Scotland.”

Posted by Sarah Ramage Trainee Residential Conveyancing paralegal

As Ever Take Good Legal Advice

Opening pop- up shops in Scotland has become a growing trend for providing short-term, often seasonal, sales spaces. They are, by their very nature, temporary; “popping up” one day in a venue then disappearing shortly after that, once they have served their purpose, days or weeks later. A pop-up retail space can be used to create a unique environment that engages customers and is often used by marketers for seasonal items such as Halloween costumes or Christmas gifts. Pop-up Laplands and Christmas Fayres, complete with Santa and Elves are a prime example. For retailers the big attraction is flexibility and overheads (the lack of). The retailer may only be taking on limited responsibility for the sales space for a few weeks only and so there will be fewer obligations in terms of maintenance and repair. Landlords also benefit from pop-up stores, not just by filling up empty space but as an alternative to entering a longer term arrangement with a particular tenant and the often lengthy legal negotiations that can involve.

However there can still be legal pitfalls of which both landlords and retailers ( as occupiers)should be aware. Chiefly these centre around the difference between a ‘lease’ and a ‘licence to occupy’. This is a complex area of law and the subject of many legal cases but rather than going into the legal debate regarding this let me focus on certain points that should be agreed between both parties before proceeding.

  • Make sure that there is no confusion regarding the termination of the arrangement. Both parties will intend that the agreement will run for a defined period. If notice periods are required these should be clearly stipulated.
  • Be aware of what you , as retailer, are getting in return for your payment. Your pop-up space might be expected to move within a larger development (wheeled concession spaces in malls are an example) and you need to decide if this will be possible or not, and if so, how far or how often you can move.
  • Both parties must understand their obligations in terms of repairs and maintenance. You may simply be required to tidy up after yourself or you could be liable for a whole lot more. General contract law states that you are deemed to have read and understood the terms of an agreement if you have put your name to it.
  • If the shop is located within a shopping centre it should be established whether there may be a payment of a service charge as well as rent.
  • It should also be absolutely defined whether the landlord or other parties, often other retailers , are free to access the property or whether the retailer has exclusive use of it. A lease gives a tenant exclusive possession of a defined space, the location of which does not change without the agreement of the tenant- not so a licence (see above) .

Pop-ups can really be a great business opportunity but remember the devil is in the detail so as ever take good legal advice in time. If I can help please contact me Joyce Moss on 0141 552 3422 or by email jmm@mitchells-roberton.co.uk