Various Claimants v WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc

This case serves as a reminder that an employer can be held liable for acts or omissions of their employees if it can be shown that those acts or omissions took place in the course of employment.

In Various Claimants v WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc, the High Court found the supermarket chain vicariously liable for an employee’s disclosure of colleagues’ personal data. This is the first case of its kind since the introduction of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Mr Skelton, the employee, worked as a senior IT internal auditor and had access to confidential information about his fellow workers. In June 2013, Mr Skelton was subject to disciplinary action which he believed was unwarranted. In November 2013, he obtained payroll data to be passed to KPMG for external audit purposes. He downloaded this to a USB stick for KPMG but also made a personal copy. Just before Morrisons’ annual financial reports were announced in early 2014, Mr Skelton posted the personal  information he had obtained on a file sharing website. He was then arrested and charged with a number of crimes including fraud and an offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. He was convicted and given an eight year prison sentence.

His colleagues, whose data had been disclosed, raised a group civil action against Morrisons, seeking redress for breach of the company’s statutory duty under section 4(4) of the DPA 1998, misuse of private information and breach of confidence.

The High Court agreed that Morrisons had no primary liability as they were not the data controller at the time of the breach. However, they were found to be vicariously liable as Mr Skelton’s wrongdoing was carried out in the course of his employment.

As Mr Skelton’s aim was to cause harm to Morrisons, the Court granted the company the right to appeal.

If you are an employer or employee facing difficulties in the workplace, please contact Paul Neilly or Hugh Grant by telephone (0141 552 3422) or email ( or

The Problem with Plastic

According to The Independent “Humans have produced about 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic since 1950”.Researchers writing in the journal , Science Advances ,warned that if current trends continued some 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste would be in landfill sites or the natural environment by 2050.

Campaign groups suggest that the average person throws away the equivalent of 1,212 Coca Cola bottles or 4,600 plastic forks each year. Scientists from a number of Universities in a paper published in Science Advances state that “The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material”.

“The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications – durability and resistance to degradation-make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate.”

“Thus , without a well-designed and tailor- made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”

In October 2014 shops in Scotland began charging 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. In the first year the number of plastic bags handed out in stores was slashed by 80%- the equivalent of 650million carriers. Scottish government research concludes that a reduction of 650 million bags means a net saving of more than 4000 tonnes of plastic and other materials each year.

MPs are now considering a 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste. Apparently the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year with less than 1% being recycled. The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove.  The Environment Audit Committee is calling on the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge on disposable coffee cups to cut waste in the same way as the plastic bag levy.  It seems that MPs are open to the idea but want to ensure that any levy would trigger a change in behaviour not merely an increase in price.

In our office we do our best to recycle as much as possible but these figures suggest we should be doing considerably more to protect our environment.

Value of Privately Owned Housing Stock Reaches New High

New research by Halifax has revealed that the total value of privately owned UK housing stock has surpassed £6 trillion for the first time.

Since 2007 the total value of private residential property in the UK has grown by £1.94 trillion (or 48%) to an estimated £6.02 trillion. The average value per household in the UK now stands at £256,912, up from £187,310 in 2007, representing an increase of close to £70,000 (37%)

This increase has been driven by a 45% rise in the average house price and the stock of privately owned homes expanding by 1.9 million from 21.5 million to 23.4 million.

Net housing wealth peaks as homeowners reach retirement age, with 40% of wealth in households with owners aged over 65. Three in five (61%) of homeowners in this age bracket are mortgage free. Almost a quarter of total household wealth is held by householders in the age group from 55-64. 47% of those aged 25-45 have a mortgage and account for 15.4% of total housing wealth. Just 0.1% net housing wealth is held by those aged 16-24.

I have been a residential conveyancing practitioner for over 24 years and I would be delighted to advise you on buying and selling property. If I can help please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email

Care for the Elderly

People are certainly living longer. The number of people in Scotland, according to the National Records of Scotland in September 2016, living for more than a century has increased over the last ten years. In 2005 there were 900 centenarians in Scotland, an increase of 67% from the 540 in 2005. The number of men aged 90 to 99 increased from 6360 to 11,300 between 2005 and 2015, an increase of 78%. The number of females aged 90 to 99 increased from 21,630 to 27,590 during the same period, an increase of 28%.

Caring for the elderly is therefore now a situation facing millions of people who need help managing elderly relatives’ affairs and assistance to make plans for their own old age.

We can offer a wide range of advice and are specialists in these areas.

  • Putting a Power of Attorney in place before you may become unable to manage your own affairs
  • Making a Will
  • Setting up trusts
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Financial planning
  • Making arrangements to pay for help and care home fees
  • Obtaining Guardianship Orders
  • Administration of Guardianships

Our private client team are here to help and are very knowledgeable in dealing with such matters applying sensitivity as well as legal expertise. Find out more at

Christmas Closing

Please note that our office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December until 9am on Wednesday 3 January.

If you require urgent assistance, an emergency out of hours number 0141 552 3422 will be in operation between 9am-5pm, Wednesday 27 December to Friday 29 December.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Housing Market Confidence is Still Fragile

The Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that consumer confidence in the housing market hasn’t fully recovered since June’s General Election.

Their recent research found that over a quarter of respondents (27%) do not agree that now is a good time to  buy a property compared to just 23% who do.

Although the political environment has stabilised a bit since June, confidence in the property market continues to be affected by a number of factors. 68% of those interviewed said that raising a deposit remained the biggest barrier to purchasing a property with 45% saying that being able to afford the mortgage repayments was a problem. Another particular concern for home movers is stamp duty costs which prevent those who want to move up the property ladder from doing so thus limiting the stock of housing for those looking to make their first purchase.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage policy at the BSA commented:

“Consumers were faced with political uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU and unexpected General Election results, and now the rising cost of living is their latest challenge.”

“It is evident that home- movers are facing the same affordability pressures as first time buyers, meaning some homeowners are unable to sell their property-further reducing choice and pushing up prices for those just getting on to the housing ladder” he added.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email

New Scottish Private Residential Tenancy in force from 1 December 2017

The Scottish Government has published regulations which confirm that the new form of Scottish residential tenancy, known as the Private Residential Tenancy will be introduced on 1 December 2017. This new form of tenancy was created by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 with the intention of improving security of tenure for tenants and also giving protection for landlords, lenders and investors.

The significant benefits for landlords include:

  • No more pre-tenancy notices such as the AT5.
  • If a tenant is in arrears of rent a landlord can refer a case for repossession more quickly.
  • The Private Residential Tenancy will include standardised terms.
  • When regaining possession of a property only one simple notice called a “notice to leave” will be required.
  • There will be 18 grounds for repossession, which include new grounds where the property has been abandoned or the landlord intends to sell.

The changes will only apply to tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017. Any tenancies existing prior to that will remain short assured tenancies or assured tenancies. The new tenancy will be open-ended and will end when the tenant gives notice of their intention to leave the property or the landlord evicts the tenant on one of the 18 modernised statutory grounds. You will find more information and guidance using these links.

If I can assist in any way please do not hesitate to contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email