The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Bill is expected to come into force this week. Scott Clair considers some of the key features of the new Bill.
26 May 2020
Firstly, the Bill relaxes the requirements for tenants under a student residential tenancy giving notice to end their tenancy for a reason relating to coronavirus. Notably, in all cases where the tenancy was entered into and the property occupied prior to the Act coming into force, all that will be required is seven days’ notice in writing by the tenant. The Bill goes on to strengthen the protection of private residential tenants from eviction by the First Tier Tribunal where the arrears relate to the period of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Notably, in relation to debt recovery and personal insolvency, the Bill increases the sequestration threshold by a petitioning qualified creditor(s) significantly from £3,000 to £10,000. The effect is that a qualified creditor(s) will not now be able to proceed with seeking an individual debtor’s bankruptcy from the court unless the debts total at least £10,000. This is therefore another significant debtor protection measure that the Scottish Government has introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bill also removes the fee payable to the Accountant in Bankruptcy that would otherwise apply to many debtors when making a fast-track application for their own sequestration.
The Bill goes on to make further provisions in respect of social care and specifically with regard to care homes and care in the community, as well as providing for significant inroads in the effective reopening of the Scottish criminal justice system. There is also a welcome technological innovation in that documents which otherwise would require to be intimated on the walls of court will now be available on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) website.
The Bill also provides for documents requiring to be lodged in the Register of Inhibitions (ROI) to be signed electronically (where they would otherwise require a wet signature) and for electronic submission of documents. It is hoped this will allow for the resumption of ordinary business at the ROI in early course.
The Bill will also temporarily remove the requirement for the physical presence of a solicitor, advocate or Notary Public when administering an Oath or Affirmation; which again is to be welcomed and will allow for remote solemnisation and notarising of documents.
If you or your business is affected by any of the matters in this article, please contact Scott Clair if you wish to discuss.