Dementia and the World of the Arts


I recently read a very moving and interesting article in The Observer of 16/7/2017 by Nicci Gerrard called “Say it with a picture or a song”. It resonated with me for certain  reasons, primarily because of the work we do here with adults with incapacity and our involvement with Project Ability Glasgow, an art project creating opportunities for people with disabilities and mental health issues.

As Nicci Gerrard explains “A few weeks ago turning on the radio, I hear a voice saying that creative writing can help wounds heal faster. Startled I turn the volume up. Volunteers were given small wounds; half were then asked to write about something distressing in their life, the other half about something mundane. The wounds of the confessional writers healed substantially more quickly. A thought or a feeling is felt on the skin. Our minds, which have the power over our bodies, are in our bodies and are our bodies: we cannot separate the two. Words, self expression, can tangibly help pain and suffering. Art can be medicine for body and soul”- potent words indeed.

An all party parliamentary group inquiry into the arts, health and well being has been gathering evidence over the last two years and has come to the unambiguous conclusion that the arts used appropriately by health professionals can help with some major social challenges of an aging population, long-term illness, loneliness and mental health ,saving money in the health service. As Lord Howarth of Newport co-chair of the all party group said “The arts have a vital role to play for people with dementia. Research demonstrates that visual arts, music, dance, digital creativity and other cultural activities can help to delay the onset of dementia and diminish its severity. This not only makes a huge difference to many individuals but also leads to cost savings. If the onset of Alzheimer’s disease ( which accounts for 62% of dementias) could be delayed by five years, savings between 2020 and 2035 are estimated at £100bn. Those are powerful statistics, but this isn’t just about money; the arts can play a powerful role in improving the quality of life for people with dementia and for their carers”.

There are projects the length and breadth of the country in theatres, galleries, community centres hospitals and care homes. As Nicci Gerrard describes” I attended one of the monthly sessions at the Royal Academy in London where people who have been art- lovers through their life- and are art-lovers still come to talk about a particular work, led by two practicing artists. We sat in front of an enigmatic painting by John Singer Sargent and there was an air of calmness, patience and above all time and there were no wrong opinions. There are many ways of seeing. People with dementia are continually contradicted and corrected, their versions of reality denied: it’s Sunday not Friday; you’ve already eaten your breakfast; I’m your wife not your mother; anyway you are old and she is dead….In this humanising democratic space, people were encouraged to see, feel, remember and express themselves. Slowly at first they began to talk. There was a sense of language returning and of thoughts feeding off each other. They were listened to with respect and were validated.”

Nicci Gerrard also mentions in her article the film “Alive Inside”. It is a documentary which follows social worker Dan Cohen founder of the non-profit making organisation Music & Memory as he fights against a broken health care system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Nicci Gerrard points to an emotive example “an old man with advanced dementia sits slumped in a wheelchair. He drools; his eyes are half closed and it’s impossible to know if he is asleep or awake. A few times a day, soft food is pushed into his mouth. Then someone puts earphones on his head and suddenly the music that he loved when he was a strong young man is pouring into him. His eyes open and knowledge comes into them. His toothless mouth splits into a beatific grin. And now he is dancing in his chair, swaying. And then this man –who doesn’t speak any longer –is actually singing. The music has reached him, found him, gladdened him and brought him back to life.”  The arts creating a miracle of which there should be more as we realise the wonderful benefits of the artistic world.

To find out more about Project Ability, please visit

Don’t let your Business Be Disempowered

Powers of Attorney are most often talked about in the context of personal matters but they are equally important in business. Some years ago a partner in a well known law firm of Glasgow solicitors fell unexpectedly and seriously ill. He spent six weeks in intensive care followed by months of home convalescence before happily making a full recovery. At their first meeting after the onset of the illness, his fellow partners looked at each other and at the various routine papers which required his signature, and realised they had fallen into the trap of failing to offer to themselves the advice which they would automatically have given their clients.

So please let me emphasise that if you are a sole trader or run a small business putting in place a Power of Attorney could be vital to the survival of your business if you suffer health or incapacity problems. Let us suppose you are a sole trader and you have been in an accident and are unable to run your business. If the business accounts are in your name only and you have no Power of Attorney in place no one else would be able to access them, but bills will still have to be paid and so on. This could affect the credit rating, reputation and customer relationships of the business, let alone any family relying upon your income.

To avoid this, all that is really involved is a straightforward legal document saying who would administer the business if you became incapable of doing so. If you do not have a Power of Attorney in place any family member or friend who wanted to step in to run your business would have to apply to the court for Guardianship which is a slow procedure and can take up to a year by which time your business may be no more.

If you are a business person it’s likely that you believe a Power of Attorney is a good idea so I urge you to take it further and find out more. Please contact me Andy Lindsay by email at or by phone on 0141 552 3422


LET IT – be known that letting agents can be sanctioned for failing to comply with Tenancy Deposit Scheme rules.

For the first time, a letting agent, rather than a landlord, has been penalised since the introduction of regulations imposing an obligation on a landlord to secure deposits even if that landlord has appointed a letting agent.

Largs-based agents, Colvin Houston, were fined for £750 (reduced to £500 for an early guilty plea) for failing to secure two tenancy deposits on behalf of landlord clients totalling £925.

Trading Standards had received a complaint from a landlord who argued that the letting agent had engaged in an “unfair commercial practice” in terms of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under the 2008 regulations, a commercial practice is considered “unfair” if it fails to meet the special standard of skill and care to be expected in the trader’s field of activity.

Trading Standards successfully argued that paying a deposit into an approved scheme is the standard of care reasonably expected of a letting agent and failure to do so is an offence under consumer law.

Colvin Houston tried to argue that the landlords in question were not consumers but commercial landlords. This was not accepted by the court and a fine was levied.

If you are a letting agent and would like advice on your obligations please contact Paul Neilly on 0141 552 3422 or

Family Law –Some Urban Myths

I have been practising family law for quite some time now and over the years it never fails to surprise me that many people still hold strongly to a number of misconceptions about family law in Scotland.

The woman will automatically get custody of the children- NO

In Scotland, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 replaced the words “custody” or “access” with the words “residence” and “contact”. Basically when parents separate there is no legal requirement to have any orders granted in relation to children unless there is genuine dispute in which case a Sheriff or Judge will decide on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child. If it is considered that it is better for a child to stay with his/her father then residence will be awarded to the father.

Child maintenance stops when a child becomes 16- NO

A parent’s responsibility to financially maintain a child lasts until that child is 25 years of age if the child is still in full time education or vocational training. The duty is owed by both parents towards the child, so that a child over the age of 16 who is at college can seek maintenance from both parents. Normally when a child of separated parents lives at home, one parent fulfils the obligation to aliment by providing bed and board whilst the other parent pays child maintenance.

If a divorce is your fault you will be punished for that financially-NO

In Scotland the only ground of divorce is the irretrievable break-down of marriage. The breakdown may be proved in a number of ways, for example non-cohabitation for a period in excess of two years or one year if your spouse consents, or unreasonable behaviour on the part of the other spouse or adultery. A spouse’s behaviour even if unreasonable has no relevance to a financial settlement unless it can be shown that the behaviour has impacted adversely on the couple’s finances, such as a serious gambling habit.

A pension is not matrimonial property-NO

A pension has a monetary value and is counted as part of a married couple’s matrimonial property in the same way as money in the bank is treated as matrimonial property. The pension has a value based on how much is held within the fund at the date of separation. A pension can be divided on divorce by way of a pension sharing order and if such an order is implemented a portion of one spouse’s pension is removed from his or her pension fund and placed in a pension fund nominated by the other spouse. The sums are not paid out until retirement. Alternatively the value of the pension can be offset against another aspect of the matrimonial property, for example, the former matrimonial home so that one spouse receives less from the house because they have a larger pension.

My husband and I separated a couple of years ago – he has now inherited a large sum from his late father and I want half- NO

Money inherited or gifted from a third party is not matrimonial property. In addition any money or assets accumulated by a spouse after the date that the parties separated is not matrimonial property. You are therefore not entitled to any of your father in law’s estate.  Money that is inherited or gifted can be converted into matrimonial property if received during a marriage and for instance is used to buy a family car. In that event, upon divorce the money is not automatically reimbursed but account of the source of the funds can be taken account of, when negotiating how a couple’s assets are to be divided.

Unmarried couples have pretty much the same rights as married couples – NO

While many income related benefits and tax credits may not take account of the married status of a couple, this does not mean that cohabiting couples have the same rights as married couples on the breakdown of their relationship. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 did bring in a number of changes to the law of cohabiting couples including rights to make a financial claim against your former partner if you can show that you have suffered economic disadvantage in the interests of the family. This is not the same as being able to claim a share of matrimonial property acquired during the period of the marriage. In addition it is only a capital sum that can be claimed and not maintenance, unlike married couples. On death the differences are also substantial. Married couples have an automatic right to inherit certain parts of their spouse’s estate on death, irrespective of whether there is a will or not. In the case of a cohabiting couple however, there is no automatic right and if there is a will which does not mention the surviving partner then they have no right to inherit at all. If there is no will, the surviving partner can make a claim against the estate of their deceased partner but must raise a court action to do so.

If you need advice on any family law matters I can help. Please contact me Fiona Wayman on 0141-552-3422 or by email

Staff Development at Mitchells Roberton

Mitchells Roberton are proud of their nurturing approach towards their staff and I feel privileged to play a part in this.  Keri Russell joined the firm straight from school when she was 17 and began working as my legal secretary in 2005, having spent her first while here as a general office assistant. When Keri was working for me I helped her understand the ins and outs of purchase and sale transactions and the legal language involved. Keri was encouraged by the firm to progress her career in law and began studying at Strathclyde University where I am delighted to say she obtained her qualification as a residential conveyancing paralegal in 2009. Frances Clark, Diane Coats, Patricia McGuigan and Michelle Sloan similarly were supported and motivated by the firm to take up studies  at Strathclyde University to attain qualifications as paralegals in civil court work and private client work.

The encouragement of staff to reach their higher potential is a constant within the firm and I am pleased to say that again three of our young office staff have recently embarked on courses at  Strathclyde University to achieve paralegal qualifications. Sarah Ramage, who is my secretary at the moment, has started studying a residential conveyancing paralegal course. She has completed her fourth assignment and her enthusiasm is catching although her future promotion will leave me without a secretary again!  As Sarah says “I am delighted to have been given this opportunity by Mitchells Roberton . I did not want to go to college after school as I was unsure what I wanted to do. Starting off with general office duties in a legal office gave me the idea that I would like to become involved  in property law so when the firm suggested that they help me through a residential conveyancing paralegal qualification I didn’t have to think twice before jumping at the chance. So far I am really enjoying it and am glad to say I am doing pretty well and want to keep that up.” Rachel McLean is also studying for the same qualification as Sarah. She has submitted her first two assignments and received excellent marks. She too very much welcomed the chance the firm offered. Emma McCutcheon has started a course to become a paralegal in private client work. Emma has said “I am loving this course. I study most evenings for an hour or so after 5 o’clock and a bit at the weekend. I recently handed in my first assignment and was astonished to get 100% and I have now submitted my second assignment. Fingers crossed  I get a good mark.”

We all wish Sarah, Rachel and Emma the best of luck with their studies and look forward to attending their graduations next year.

Tougher Rules on employing illegal workers under Immigration Act

The Immigration Act 2016 came into force on 12 July 2016. Immigration minister James Brokenshire said:

“Some employers seem to think that by employing workers who are less likely to complain, including vulnerable migrants, they can undercut the local labour market and mistreat them with impunity…. The unscrupulous need to know that breaking the law is a high-risk activity and the full force of the state will be applied to them.”

The Immigration Act 2016 makes a number of changes to address the criminal offence of employing illegal workers and to tackle the exploitation of low-skilled migrant workers. Illegal workers are defined as individuals that do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or are in breach of a condition preventing them from working.

UK employers already have to carry out immigration checks before employees start employment.  Previously, employers would have breached their duties by “knowingly” employing an illegal worker. Under the new Act, employers will commit are in breach if they employ someone they have “reasonable cause to believe” is disqualified from employment because of their immigration status. A Government Factsheet on the new legislation says:

“By making the test more objective we are making it easier to prove the offence.”

Employers must now undertake three checks in order to comply with the law:

  1. Obtain the employee’s original documents as prescribed in the Home Office Guidance.
  2. Check, in the presence of the employee, that the documents are original and valid.
  3. Copy and keep the documents securely and record the date of the check and date for follow up checks.

To avoid discrimination claims, employers should carry out right to work checks on all prospective employees, not just those who appear to be of non-British descent.

The Act also introduces increased scrutiny and tougher potential sanctions for employers:

  • The maximum custodial sentence on indictment has been increased from 2 to 5 years
  • A maximum financial penalty of £20,000
  • A visa levy (immigration skills charge) on employers that use foreign labour.
  • A new power is introduced to close premises for up to 48 hours where a business employs illegal migrants. If the employer cannot prove they carried out appropriate checks then the business could be placed under special compliance requirements, including a period of continued closure.
  • A new Director of Labour Market Enforcement will oversee public bodies which enforce the different minimum standards for workers, including HMRC.

While the Immigration Act 2016 is now law, the majority of new measures will take effect only once further regulations are made. 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

Should Women be Made to Wear High Heels at Work?

Dress codes are often used in the workplace and there are many reasons why an employer may have such a code.  For example in some firms employees may be required to adhere to some form of corporate wear to communicate a certain image. Or indeed a code may exist for purely health and safety reasons with perhaps health care workers not being allowed to wear jewellery around patients or certain clothing being prohibited in factories where staff are operating machinery.

A recent case, however, has highlighted potential issues with dress code policies. A 27 year old woman working for a City firm in London was sent home for apparently refusing to wear high heels. Nicola Thorp arrived at an accountancy firm wearing flat shoes but was told she must change out of her flat shoes to wear shoes with a 2-4 inch heel. She refused, complaining that male colleagues were not required to wear high heeled shoes and she was sent home without pay. Her employers defended their dress code.

There is no specific law on dress codes at work and Ms Thorp, feeling so strongly about the position she found herself in, set up a Petition to the Government, demanding “women have the option to wear flat shoes at work if they wish” and claiming “Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist.” At the moment the Petition has picked up more than 20,000 signatures meaning the Government must give a comment. If it gets more than 100,000 signatures there is a possibility that MPs could debate the issue in Parliament.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic, which include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

To help employers ACAS has issued the following guidelines:

  • Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in any dress code policy.
  • Employers may have health and safety reasons for having certain standards.
  • Dress codes must apply to men and women equally, although they may have different requirements.
  • Reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people when dress codes are in place.

As ACAS has further stated “a dress code should always be related to the job and be reasonable in nature.”

So did Ms Thorp suffer discrimination? UK employers can dismiss staff who fail to live up to “reasonable dress code demands” but according to Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC a dress code including high heels “reeks of sexism.” “High heels should be a choice, not a requirement.”

There are of course also health concerns. Tony Redmond a biomechanics expert at Leeds University  warned that “ From the point of view of the foot, high heels are a disaster.”  He alerts us to the fact that wearing high heels may cause some forms of arthritis, problems with knee joints and put people with weak lower backs at risk of slipped vertebrae. Emma Supple from the College of Podiatry has advised employers not to make women wear high heels at work because they “cause bunions, back problems, ankle sprains and tight calves.” As she says “All companies should be mindful of both the comfort as well as the smartness of their employees. These are not incompatible.”

In this case no claim has been put to an Employment Tribunal and the firm at the centre of the row has said it has now changed its policy allowing women to wear flat shoes depending on their preference. In a statement,Simon Pratt the Managing Director said “We are totally committed to being an inclusive and equal opportunities employer, actively embracing diversity and inclusion within our policies and procedures.”

But what would happen if a similar case were to be brought before a Tribunal? The employer would have to succeed on two points- that there was an objective reason for women to wear high heels, such as better job performance and they would have to justify why women had to wear high heels and why there was no similar requirement for men. I think this would be very difficult to prove.

If you have an employment law query Hugh Grant our employment law specialist is here to help. Please contact him on 0141-552-3422 or by email

Middle Aged Need Not Apply

In the last year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has received over 100 complaints about discriminatory advertisements including:

  • Age discrimination – a recruitment agency advert stated that over 45s need not apply
  • Disability discrimination – a hotel said it would not offer accommodation to disabled people
  • Sexual orientation – another hotel said that it wouldn’t allow same sex couples to stay in a room together
  • Sex discrimination – a bar advertised for a “part-time shot girl”

Discriminatory advertising is often overlooked in the area of discrimination law yet the EHCR has warned that thousands of people could be at risk of being denied jobs each year due to unlawful advertising.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers from discriminating on any of the nine protected grounds, such as age, disability or gender reassignment, when deciding who to offer employment.

Some principal recommendations in the EHRC’s good guidance practice are:

  • When recruiting, include an equal opportunity statement to make it clear that applicants are welcome from all suitably qualified or experienced people.
  • Avoid words implying a restriction on those who may apply such as “young”, “physically active” or “cameraman.”
  • If there is a real occupational requirement for an applicant to have a protected characteristic, for example for a female to work in a women’s refuge, this must be objectively justifiable.

Employers can face two potential actions if they place a discriminatory advert. A tribunal may award monetary damages to an unsuccessful applicant or a person who is genuinely deterred from applying and / or enforcement action may be taken by the EHRC even if no one has actually complained.

If you would like to discuss the wording of any advertisement for a new employee, the issue of a particular occupational requirement or indeed any employment matter, please contact Hugh Grant ( or Paul Neilly ( or telephone 0141 552 3422.

Additional tax burden on purchase of second home

To relatively little fanfare and without much in the way of useful guidance the Scottish Government has announced that from 1 April 2016 a supplementary Land & Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) charge will apply to the purchase of additional residential properties in Scotland. Basically this means that homeowners wishing to buy a second home or buy-to-let property will face an additional tax charge of 3% of the purchase price.

All residential property purchases by companies and sole traders will be affected by the supplement regardless of whether this is a second home or not.

LBTT is currently payable on all residential property purchases over £145,000.  You will still have to pay the standard rate of LBTT on the purchase of any second home (see illustration below for current rates) but assuming that you pay £40,000 or more for your second home then you will pay an additional LBTT charge of 3% of the whole of the purchase price

The current “standard” rates and additional homes rates are outlined below:

Purchase price Existing LBTT rate


Additional Homes Supplement

(range of additional LBTT payable)

Up to £145,000 0% 3% (£1,200 – £4,350)
Above £145,000 to £250,000 2% 3% (£4,350 – £7,500)
Above £250,000 to £325,000 5% 3% (£7,500 – £9,750)
Above £325,000 to £750,000 10% 3% (£9,750 – £22,500)
Over £750,000 12% 3% (£22,500 – )


Please note that “standard” LBTT is payable at the rate given on that part of the price falling within the given price bracket (e.g. for a purchase at £275,000 “standard” LBTT is payable as follows: 2% of £105,000 (being the amount of the price between £145,000 and £250,000) plus 5% of £25,000 (being the amount of the price above £250,000).

Whilst it is not possible to go into all the detail of the new legislation within the scope of this short article we would make the following comments:

  • If you are selling your main residence but have settled the purchase of your new main residence before the sale of your existing property, the additional 3% would be payable but refundable as long as you sell your previous main residence within 18 months of the purchase of your new main residence.
  • If you purchase a new main home but decide to rent out your previous property then you will be deemed as having purchased an additional home and the 3% supplement will apply.
  • In order to prevent couples from avoiding to pay the supplement by purchasing additional properties in sole names an individual will be deemed to be the owner of a residential property where it is owned by their spouse, civil partner, cohabitant or child under 16.
  • Property investors purchasing 6 or more residential properties in one transaction will not have to pay the new 3% LBTT supplement.

If you have any queries regarding this new supplementary tax or more generally about purchasing a first or additional home please contact me, Ross Leatham, on 0141 552 3422 or by email

What documents should I shred and what documents should I keep?

I was visiting an elderly client recently and after our usual chat over a cup of tea and Chelsea bun I set about helping her clear the mounds of paperwork which were covering every work space in the kitchen and every surface of all downstairs tables .There were piles of assorted filing spewing forth from drawers and mountains of superfluous documents stuffed randomly into magazine racks.

But my client is certainly not alone in amassing ever-growing piles of paperwork. We all get tons of junk mail from credit card applications, insurance packages or a 50 page retirement fund report from a job you had a decade ago. Not only does excess paperwork take up a lot of space but it also makes things very hard for your family if you were to die or lose capacity and need to have your affairs managed by someone else. You can make life much easier for family members by having the right papers in the right places. It will also save you hours of hunting around for that document you urgently need but cannot quite remember the safe place you put it.

I think the main reason people accumulate so much paperwork is because they are uncertain what records to keep and what to discard. So to help you I have composed a checklist of what I think should be kept and where best to keep it. The list is of course not exhaustive!

Depending on what type of documents you are dealing with, you need to store some of them for certain periods of time, others you can digitise and others you can throw away. Let me start with the documents you need to keep physical copies of forever. These are best stored in the one place-perhaps in a metal fire-proof deposit box.

  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates for deceased family members
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Any divorce or legal papers regarding dissolution of a marriage
  • Adoption papers
  • Copy of your current Will and Power of Attorney
  • Copy of the title deeds of your property
  • Important contracts
  • Household Inventory – if there were a fire or burglary in your home, this record will help you remember what has to be replaced and how much each item is worth. An inventory may also highlight the need to increase your insurance if necessary.
  • Education information such as degree papers, diplomas etc

You should also keep the following : A small filing cabinet is a perfect place to keep all the documents listed below.

  • Utilities- it is useful to keep a note of all your providers for gas, electricity, telephone, and internet together with account and customer numbers. You do not need to retain old bills.
  • Current insurance policies for building and contents. Outdated policies should be discarded.
  • Warranties, manuals and receipts for household appliances or guarantees for home improvements should also be retained. Expired warranties and guarantees can be destroyed.
  • Vehicle papers-(tax discs are all now done online). You should ,however, keep together the vehicle registration form, MOT certificate, car insurance policy and any loan documentation relating to the purchase of the vehicle.

Now for your financial papers, what should you keep?

  • Bank statements and tax certificates- Ideally these should be held for around 6 years although HMRC can in some circumstances look back further than that. At a minimum bank statements should be kept for two years following the end of the tax year to which they relate.
  • Life insurance policies should be stored indefinitely and all other insurance documents should be stored safely for as long as the policies remain active.
  • Investments –Almost all shareholdings now are held without certificates. You should keep a written list of all your investments noting down any holdings which are held as share certificates and those which are not. The list should be up-dated as and when required. The papers relating to old inactive investments should be thrown out.
  • All relevant pension plan documents

Papers best stored by your solicitor:

  • Your Will- having a valid Will is extremely important and should be retained in a secure place and family members should know where it is. Mitchells Roberton offer a free storage service.
  • Your Power of Attorney-I cannot stress enough the value of having a Power of Attorney in place. Again Mitchells Roberton will store a Power of Attorney for you at no charge.
  • The title deeds to your property are best held by your solicitor. At the moment we hold many thousands of title deeds for our clients.

Digital Assets- Keeping a track of your digital assets is as important as keeping paperwork safe. There is a delicate balance between security and enabling a family member to access any passwords should they be needed.

That is pretty much it!  But remember that your papers should be reviewed ideally once a year to discard items no longer needed. Of course you should always shred anything that has personal information like your name, address, phone number, or bank account details.

There is no time like the present to get your paperwork in order and if I can help  please call me Alison Gourley on 0141-552-3422 or email me at

And now I am going home to give the shredder a well overdue work-out!