Scotland PHOTO

Family and consumer law ‘need greater attention under Brexit’

Family law is heading for “the wilderness of uncertainty” under current Brexit proposals, a senior member of the Faculty of Advocates has told MSPs.

A second member called for consumer protection issues to be moved up the Brexit agenda.

Janys Scott QC, chair of the Advocates’ Family Law Association, and James Mure QC, convenor of the Faculty’s International Committee, along with advocate Peter Sellar, a member of the International Committee, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The committee was examining Brexit in relation to family law, and to civil, commercial and consumer law.

Mrs Scott gave an example of a divorce where a wife was in Scotland and the husband was in France. Currently, the wife could start proceedings in Scotland and the French court could not intervene. However, under the EU Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted, courts in the two countries could each deal with the case, and possibly come to conflicting decisions.

“One cannot defend the EU system as perfect, it is a work in progress. But what is proposed is to set us off into the wilderness of uncertainty when we are on a course bringing us greater certainty, albeit it is not perfect,” said Mrs Scott.

Family law was “a long way down the list” of Brexit issues, she added, but it was an important issue for citizens of Scotland and the UK, and she asked the MSPs to help raise the profile of family law.

Her plea was echoed by Mr Mure in relation to consumer protection. He said concern had been expressed widely that consumer protection had not figured sufficiently in UK government papers on Brexit.

“I think there is a need for people to articulate consumer protection particularly…the answer is to bring it up the agenda. These are real issues that will affect people,” added Mr Mure.

Watch the evidence session at https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/justice-committee-january-30-2018

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