Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Bullying & the Law in Scotland - A new guide for parents in Scotland from Govan Law Centre

Govan Law Centre’s Education Law Unit has today published a guide for parents on bullying and the law. RespectMe’s report on Bullying in Scotland (2014) revealed that 30% of pupils were bullied in the last school year, and for many families it is an ongoing and debilitating problem.

Bullying at school is one of the main reasons the Education Law Unit is contacted for advice, and the guide will be distributed free of charge in PDF format so that it is accessible to all.

Iain Nisbet, partner at Govan Law Centre and Head of the Education Law Unit said: “Our aim in producing this guide is to set out as clearly and simply as possible, what the law says about bullying in all its guises.  Bullying at school, whether it is a physical assault or abuse via social media platforms, needs to be dealt with". 

"By informing parents and others about the rights and responsibilities in this area, we hope to empower parents and families to make the right decisions and to work with the right agencies to help address the bullying and to protect the child in question from further harm.”

GLC's Bullying & the Law Guide is available as a free PDF download here.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Don't be money scammed by telephone fraudsters: what to know and do about 'vishing' from Govan Law Centre

All this week BBC's Money Box has been highlighting the prevalence of telephone money scams across the UK. This is known as 'vishing'. There are literally thousands of vishing calls each day to people by fraudsters all looking for just one thing: to dupe you to transfer money from your bank account to them. Last year they got £23m by conning consumers this way. It can happen to anyone, so what do you need to know to protect yourself from fraud?

What you need to know
Criminals will telephone you pretending to be from your bank or the police. They will lie and pretend that you are the victim of a fraud. For example, someone has accessed your account or card details or there is someone within your bank who is a thief. They will try and convince you to transfer your money into a safe account, or give your personal details. First thing to know is your bank or the police would never ever do this. 
  • Under no circumstances would your bank or the police ever ask you to transfer money into another account, give your PIN number or password, or take out money to give to them to keep safe.
  • Anyone who telephones you to transfer money or release your PIN or password is a criminal and you should simply hang up.  
  • After hanging up wait ten or fifteen minutes. Make sure you hear a proper dialling tone and call your bank's official telephone number straight away and report this.
  • Remember fraudsters use the 'no hang-up' trick. You get a call and they say to prove they are from the bank hang-up and dial your bank. You put the phone down but they are still on the line - you think your are dialling your bank but you aren't - the fraudster speaks and cons you into thinking you've just called your bank.
  • Never ever transfer any funds or give away a PIN or password.
What happens if I'm scammed?
If you have transferred money or given someone your personal details you should contact you bank immediately. Your bank can put a freeze on your account to prevent money from being taken from it.  If you have already transferred money to someone else's account give your bank that sort code and account number. Your bank should contact the bank where your money has been transferred to - they have a legal duty to treat your fairly and protect your money - and try and recover the money before it leaves the fraudster's bank account.

I've lost money what can I do?
If you have contacted your bank without delay and they have done everything possible to help get your money back but unfortunately the criminals have been too quick, it may be extremely difficult to get a refund.  However, every case depends on its own circumstances and if you are suffering very serious hardship it may be worth complaining to your bank explaining the impact this is having on you.

If your bank hasn't done everything possible and failed to take reasonable steps then you will have much better grounds for a refund complaint - for example:
  • Your bank says you need to contact the bank where the money was transferred to;
  • You were unable to contact your bank immediately because it only accept reports of fraud within limited hours;
  • Your bank says it will take several days to look into this;
  • Your banks says there is nothing they can do as you chose to make the transfer; or
  • The fraudster had personal information about you that only your bank had (raising the possibility your banking data had been hacked or sold on to fraudsters).
Even if your bank rejects your complaint you can still complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). You have six months to do so from when your bank rejects your complaint, and are always best to do so as soon as possible.

The FOS has published a study on vishing scams (Calling Time on Telephone Fraud, July 2015 - opens as a PDF). This study shows that on average 37% of consumer complaints for vishing scams were upheld (successful) in favour of the bank customer. The study indicates the FOS will look at what steps your bank has taken, how reasonable they were in all of the circumstances, and how reasonably you have acted in all of the circumstances.

Remember the three T's -
  • don't Transfer your money for any caller
  • don't Tell a caller your PIN number of password, and
  • never Trust any caller who asks you transfer your money or reveal your PIN/password
You can listen to BBC Money Box's discussion of this issue here:


Thursday, 27 August 2015

In rooting out slum private landlords, Glasgow needs contingency plans to accommodate displaced occupiers in Govanhill

A £9.3m ‘buy-out’ scheme that will bring substandard private rented sector housing into social ownership in Glasgow's Govanhill was discussed on STV Glasgow last night by Govanhill Law Centre's Senior Solicitor, Rachel Moon, and Anne Lear, Director of Govanhill Housing Association. Govanhill Law Centre (GhLC) is part of GLC.

The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council initiative is part of a two year program whereby funds will be used to buy around 80 properties through Govanhill Housing Association. Initial stages have been to build a team of staff to investigate who is living in the properties, and public meetings have been held at some of the worst addresses to gauge the interest of landlords in selling to the housing association.

When asked about criticisms that the scheme would miss the main people it was trying to target without compulsory purchase powers, Ms Lear advised that whilst they were trying to go along the route of voluntary sales in the first instance, the council had confirmed that compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) was not ‘off the table’. The issue of using CPOs was the first case GhLC took on when it launched on 19 November 2008 in Govanhill on behalf of the then Leader of Glasgow City Council, recognising the need to tackle substandard housing in private landlord ownership. 

GLC welcomes the public money to be spent in Govanhill. All too many private landlords in the area act with impunity and exploit vulnerable residents. However, GLC believes provision must be made for those existing tenants and residents. Many of the properties targeted are in a state of disrepair, and overcrowded and existing occupiers will be displaced by the buy-out. 

Many displaced residents will have to apply for alternative accommodation through applying for a housing association property (many of whom have long waiting lists) and many will be forced to present as homeless for emergency accommodation. In the long term, hopefully there will be more sustainable and more suitable housing for the most vulnerable families in the community, but the short term consequences should not be ignored in GLC's view.  

It is understood Govanhill Housing Association share these concerns, and Govanhill Law Centre looks forward to working with the Association and other stakeholders to bring about a contingency strategy for these tenants to make sure that they don’t slip through the net.

Glasgow City Council has applied for Govanhill to obtain ‘Enhanced Enforcement Area’ status. This would give the local authority greater powers to enter and take action against recalcitrant landlords. We support this. GLC hopes that all local organisations can work together to root out the slum private landlords in the area.

Tenants are subjected to extreme disrepair, infestation and lack of services and extortionate amounts are being paid to landlords. Letting agents exist which are not real organisations. Names are registered on the Private Landlord Register which bear no resemblance to the tenancy agreement. People are being illegally evicted in increasing numbers. It will take strategic and targeted action to make sure that these private landlords are rooted out. 

We are working closely with the police to ensure that those landlords and letting agents are brought to justice under the Rent (Scotland) Act and there are a number of cases which have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal in recent weeks after a targeted approach.
Despite the high levels of public investment through housing benefit, and the effect on communities and tenants health and employment opportunities, there is no effective regulatory body to act as a check on the Private Rented Sector in Scotland. This is why Govan Law Centre has called upon the Scottish Government to introduce legislation to create a national regulatory body with legal teeth to raise standards and prosecute landlords and letting agents who break the law.


Monday, 13 July 2015

GLC's Principal Solicitor admitted as a solicitor advocate

Mike Dailly (far left), Christine McLintock,
President, Law Society of Scotland (centre) and
newly admitted solicitor advocates in Scotland
Govan Law Centre (GLC) is delighted to announce that Mike Dailly has been admitted as a solicitor advocate with extended rights of audience in the Court of Session, UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in civil cases.

Mike has been Principal Solicitor at GLC since September 1999, and has worked with the Board and colleagues to grow the law centre, and develop the range of specialist legal services which it now provides across Scotland.

He has a strong interest in several legal areas, including housing, public law, human rights, financial services and consumer rights law and regularly undertakes contentious litigation on behalf of GLC clients. The ability to represent clients in the superior courts, and the skills acquired during the extended rights of audience course, has already benefited GLC's clients, and will also assist GLC as it takes its new Public Interest Litigation Unit forward working with key stakeholders and partners.

Friday, 26 June 2015

GLC's Public Interest Litigation Unit gets underway in Scotland

Govan Law Centre has been working to establish a Public Interest Litigation Unit which aims to offer a new service to advice agencies, charities, community groups and campaigners across Scotland. 

We have already identified some significant test cases affecting tens of thousands of vulnerable Scots which we are currently progressing, in partnership with a national charity in Scotland.

Our Public Interest Litigation Unit (PILU) seeks to advance human rights, equality and financial inclusion through the use of strategic public interest litigation in Scotland.

We will have a particular focus on mitigating the impact of the austerity agenda, with its resultant cuts to welfare benefits and essential public services. Public interest litigation is the use of legal action which seeks to advance the cause of minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals, or which seeks to progressively advance issues of significant public concern.

PILU's remit cuts across all areas of unmet legal need (for example, public law and judicial review, disability and welfare rights, social work law, consumer credit and financial services, housing, health and education law, to name just some legal areas).

Where an advice agency, charity, community group or campaigners think they may have a potential issue/case where there is an injustice with a wider public interest we may be able to help.

Our criteria for undertaking research and litigation will include our assessments on whether there is (a) an unmet legal need (b) strategic public interest in Scotland or the UK (c) a stateable legal case and (d) whether we have sufficient funding for litigation.

We will be able to offer access to in-house solicitor advocates and a range of specialist in-house legal experience. Services will include identifying strategic legal arguments supported by case law, producing legal opinions, developing test case strategies, working with solicitor advocates and advocates in the progress of test cases, and developing and supporting wider campaign plans.

To discuss whether our PILU may be able to assist please e-mail in the first instance Deirdre Flanigan on pilu @ The PILU is headed up by our Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly, with the support of the legal team at Govan and Govanhill Law Centres.

We are also interested to hear from any advocates, and solicitors in private practice, who may be interested in giving up some time to work with our PILU, or any other ideas that you may have to co-operate in the development of more effective strategic public interest litigation in Scotland. Please feel free to e-mail pilu @ as the first point of contact.