Friday, 11 December 2015

Independent evaluation evidences overwhemling need for Govan Law Centre's prevention of homelessness service

An independent evaluation by Susan Solomon: Independent Research and Evaluation Specialists has found that Govan Law Centre's prevention of homelessness service has "exceeded expectations", was rated as "overwhelmingly positive" and a "success" by all stakeholders, partners and clients.

The report is published here (opens as a PDF).  An example of some of the views of service users and stakeholders are set out below.

"When I met [GLC] I was in a bad place ... I was sofa surfing ... pregnant ... all sorts was happening ... GLC got me into supported accommodation"
(Female, 27 years old)

"I was sleeping on the streets ... trailing to that Twomax place and Hamish Allan every day for about a fortnight ... every day they said they didn't have anything.  I went to GLC ... totally amazing how it all changed ..."
(Male, 28 years old)

"It's simple and immediate ... that's why it works so well ... right place at the right time".
(Partnership Organisation)

"It's enhanced what we do here tremendously ... that's its strength ... it's a win win for both us and our Users".
(Partnership Organisation)

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Senior Manager Alastair Sharp said:
"Our innovative Rights Hubs Assertive Outreach Service takes the service to the most vulnerable and marginalised  people in Glasgow.  We make sure that our clients are accommodated and that their housing needs are met, along with providing a holistic service which includes welfare rights, social care, access to solicitor/solicitor advocates.  This report provides independent evidence of the overwhelming need for this essential service in Glasgow".

Monday, 30 November 2015

GLC warns MSPs that Private Tenancies Bill would give tenants a 'zero hours contract' on their home unless amended

Govan Law Centre gave oral evidence before the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee on 18 November 2015, along with the Legal Services Agency, the Law Society of Scotland, COSLA, ALACHO and the City of Edinburgh Council. The Official Report of the meeting is available online here.

Giving evidence on behalf of GLC, Mike Dailly said: "The aims of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill were good but there were too many mandatory grounds for landlords to evict tenants. It is the equivalent of giving a tenant a zero hours contract on their home."

"As a matter of principle and economic prudence, Govan Law Centre does not believe an ever-increasing PRS is capable of meeting Scotland’s housing need. The sector falls short of being fit for purpose at present. We support UNISON Scotland’s proposals for encouraging pension funds to invest in building good quality affordable housing for rent."

"The private rented sector in Glasgow has grown in recent years and it can be summed us as 'A tale of two cities.'  For those who can afford higher rents there is choice and more good properties available but for those who have no alternative it is a bad experience. The executive looking to move home for a job would have good choice because he has good income but lots end up in private rented homes because they have no other choice."

The ICI Committee is taking oral evidence from the Minister for Housing in Scotland on Wednesday 2 December 2015, and will thereafter prepare its Stage 1 Report on the Bill in January 2016.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill - GLC's written evidence at Stage 1

Govan Law Centre has submitted its written evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Stage 1 inquiry of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill, which is available as a PDF document here.  GLC will be presenting oral evidence to the Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee next Wednesday, 18 November 2015.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Powerless: no expectations, choice or security - Govan Law Centre's research report on the experience of tenants in Scotland's private rented sector

Govan Law Centre's research report, funded by the Big Lottery in Scotland, on the experience of tenants in Scotland's private rented sector has been published online (full link below).

We searched out and listened to the personal experience of a wide range of tenants in Glasgow’s private rented sector.  Our report is their story. Their voice represents a common experience which we have no reason to believe is not replicated across Scotland and the UK.

Our study, funded by the Big Lottery in Scotland, reveals that most tenants feel powerless and worry that they have little more than a month’s security of tenure.  Learning from their experience, GLC's report makes a number of major law reform, practice and policy recommendations.

We do not believe the Scottish Government's Private Rented Housing (Tenancies) Bill, published last week, as currently drafted is capable of tackling the many problems our report evidences and identifies. We hope the Bill can be amended in order to give Scotland private rented sector tenants a little power, choice and security in their relationships with private landlords.

Coverage of GLC's report in the media:
Evening Times Special Report 
The Herald
The Herald Opinion 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Update on GLC's Public Interest Litigation Unit (PILU)

Since launching just over three months ago, and with no dedicated resources, Govan Law Centre's Public Interest Litigation Unit (PILU) has been inundated with requests for assistance from across Scotland; what follows is a brief update of work streams.

We have sought to prioritise and utilise our limited resources to try and achieve the best possible strategic litigation outcomes for those in need of help in Scotland.

At present PILU is staffed by GLC's Principal Solicitor and Solicitor Advocate, Mike Dailly, and Deirdre Flanigan, a Trainee Solicitor with a specialist interest in International Human Rights. We are developing the offers of support we have had from advocates, solicitors, experts and other volunteers to increase our capacity and reach.

The PILU is currently progressing a number of cases across Scotland with respect the legality of charges for non-residential care for severely disabled people. This is a live strategy, working with a national disability rights charity, and we hope to be in a position to provide further updates when appropriate to do so.

Other examples of work include working with a national charity in relation to the rights of asylum seekers, and we are currently ingathering evidence and preparing test cases to challenge the unacceptable treatment of asylum seekers in Scotland in relation to accommodation and services.

With respect to the environmental concerns of fracking and UCG in Scotland and the UK, the PILU is undertaking research and investigation into potential legal strategies, working with local communities in Fife, and developing links to other potential stakeholders.

In Glasgow, we have agreed in principle to represent the interests of local communities in relation to a potential forthcoming public inquiry; while in Edinburgh we are looking at the possibility of helping to prevent multiple evictions.

If you have a issue of wider strategic public interest in Scotland that requires legal assistance you can set out the details and send same to PILU@ We have limited resources and need to target these as best as possible, but we will consider each case on its merits, having regard to our criteria for trying to help where there is a national or wider public interest.

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.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Financial barriers by housing associations puts prevention of homelessness at risk in Scotland

Govan Law Centre (GLC) is concerned that some social landlords in Scotland have now introduced major financial barriers which are stopping homeless people from accessing their statutory rights to permanent accommodation.  See the Evening Times article on this issue here.

For example, it is now common place in Glasgow for a homeless person - legally entitled to an offer of a permanent tenancy from a housing association - to be told he or she will only be granted a lease by the association if they pay the first month's rent 'up-front'.  This is an insurmountable barrier for many homeless people, who are either in receipt of benefits or low wages - both of which are paid in arrears - and trying to cope with the mental and physical stress and anguish of homelessness.

GLC believes that this change in policy by some registered social landlords has and will undermine the Scottish Government and COSLA's progressive strategies to prevent homelessness in Scotland.  The policy change also demonstrates a failure by some housing associations to properly consider the needs of vulnerable people. 

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Senior Manager, Alasdair Sharp, said: "While it is standard practice in the private rented sector for one month's rent to be required in advance; Scottish housing associations receive significant public subsidy, enjoy charitable status and numerous statutory powers".

"The reason for is, is because the Scottish Government and Parliament recognises the fundamental need for social housing in Scotland - and that fact it has a different role to play than the private sector. Social landlords enjoy a privileged position to ensure that the most vulnerable and less advantaged in our society are treated justly and fairly. GLC believes that demanding advance rent from homeless households is at odds with the ethos and role of social landlords. More worryingly, it undermines prevention of homelessness and financial inclusion strategies in Scotland".

GLC believes the Scottish Government should give consideration to using its delegated powers to issue statutory guidance (under section 5(7) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001) to clarify that it is not acceptable to require an advance payment of rent as a condition of a person being accommodated as a homeless person; as well as putting the issue beyond any doubt by inserting an appropriate ancillary clause in the forthcoming Housing (Scotland) Bill to amend the 2001 Act accordingly.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

GLC research reveals systemic failure of councils to meet education duties for 'looked after' children in Scotland

Research conducted by Govan Law Centre has revealed widespread failure by Scotland’s local authorities to meet their education law duties for looked after children.
In terms of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, every looked after child with additional support needs must be assessed for a Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP). There is a legal presumption that looked after children do have additional support needs (unless the reverse is proved).
Figures from freedom of information requests sent to all 32 local authorities in Scotland show that:
• Of 12,533 looked after children with additional support needs, only 6,374 have actually been assessed for a CSP, leaving almost half – 5,799 unassessed
• Of the 6374 who have been assessed, only 368 have been deemed as requiring a CSP. This is only 2.9% of looked after children with additional support needs – a drop from 5.1% in 2013
• Despite having a right of appeal, none of the 6,374 cases local authorities claim to have assessed have been appealed, calling into question both the robustness of the process and whether local authorities are respecting the rights of children in their care.
• The number of looked after children after assessment deemed as requiring a co-ordinated support plan varies greatly, from 46.7% of those assessed in Highland to only 0.7% in East Ayrshire.
Iain Nisbet, Head of Education Law at Govan Law Centre said:
“These duties have been in force for nearly 5 years and local authorities are still failing to live up to their legal duties towards looked after children. In fact, we suspect that many of those the authorities claim to have assessed have not been given their full legal rights, illustrated best by the total absence of any appeals.  The system is failing thousands of children right across Scotland, leaving them to the poorer educational outcomes and life chances we know looked after children face.”

“The reason these duties were introduced by the Scottish Parliament is that often looked after children do not have effective parental advocates to stand up for their rights. Govan Law Centre pointed out these failings to Ministers, who have oversight and powers of direction over Councils, in 2013 and we are doing so again now to highlight that little has changed in the intervening years.  Our figures show that too few authorities are respecting the rights of looked after children, and it is now time for the Scottish Ministers to do so instead.  We are calling for an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Secretary and for swift and robust action to tackle the repeated failures of Scottish Councils.”


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Recruitment: trainee solicitor vacancy at Govan Law Centre

Govan Law Centre is seeking a new Trainee Solicitor to join its award winning legal team.  

The role will include defending evictions and mortgage repossessions as part of our Prevention of Homelessness Rights Hubs across Glasgow, providing advice and representation on a range of social welfare law, consumer rights and public law issues, along with undertaking work in our Govanhill Law Centre office, working with the Roma community and EU migrant workers.

The new post will also have scope to undertake legal work within our national Education Law Unit, which provides expert advice and representation in the field of Scots education law. There may also be an opportunity to undertake Parliamentary law reform and social justice campaign work. We believe this is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has a demonstrable passion for social justice in Scotland.

Please send a CV, and a relevant covering letter (the covering letter should be no more than 2 pages of A4) to: Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor at Govan Law Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow, G51 2BZ or The closing date for applications is 4pm, Friday 12 June 2015.

No recruitment agencies necessary thank-you.  The likely interview date for shortlisted candidates is the week commencing Monday 22 June 2015.

Govan Law Centre is a Registered Scottish Charity SC030193 And aims to be an Equal Opportunities Employer. You must hold, or be entitled to hold, a valid Entrance Certificate from the Law Society of Scotland to apply for this post, in relation to a proposed start date of Summer 2015.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sheriff Principal upholds Ayrshire homeowner's appeal against mortgage repossession

The Sheriff Principal of North Strathclyde has allowed a homeowner's appeal against a decree for mortgage repossession at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court today.

In the case of Clydesdale Bank plc v. S, an order for ejection and possession had been granted earlier this year as the homeowner's mortgage had matured and come to an end. The homeowner had become ill, with a drop in household income, and the bank was unwilling to provide any further lending.

All possible avenues for a solution had been pursued unsuccessfully, however, the Ayrshire Homelessness and Prevention (AHAP) project solicitor, Lynn Fraser of Govan Law Centre (GLC) had pursued a mortgage mis-selling case against Clydesdale Bank plc.

This was on the basis that the bank had sold their customer an interest only 'mortgage' that lasted for three and half years. The customer had purchased a property upon the understanding that a mortgage had been provided on the standard repayment basis, with an initial short term period of three and half years being 'interest only'. In fact, the product actually sold was a short term secured loan, and not a mortgage in the normal understanding of that term.

When the case called before the sheriff, the Clydesdale Bank plc advised the court that the mis-selling complaint had been 'rejected', notwithstanding this had not been intimated to the customer in writing. The sheriff considered that there was no defence, although the homeowner's solicitor advised the mis-selling case was live, and access to the Financial Ombudsman Service's statutory alternative dispute redress scheme might well be pursued given the unusual nature of the mortgage product sold.

In recalling the sheriff's interlocutor (decree for repossession), Sheriff Principal Murray held that the sheriff had erred in law in his application of the statutory tests in section 24(7) of the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970, and the identical provisions in section 5A(7) of the Heritable Securities (Scotland) Act 1894. He considered that the mis-selling case was a relevant matter which should have been explored further and that a proof should have been fixed.

The Sheriff Principal allowed answers (defences) to be lodged by the appellant and defender, and fixed an evidential hearing (diet of proof). The appellant and defender was represented by GLC's Mike Dailly; and the respondents and pursuers by McClure Naismith LLP's David Forrester.

The decisions of Sheriff Principals are binding in their Sheriffdoms. The Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde includes the Sheriff Courts of Kilmarnock, Dunoon, Oban, Campbeltown, Greenock, Dumbarton and Paisley.  Scotland has six Sheriffdoms.


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Call for greater consumer protection initiatives to prevent misconduct in European banking

GLC's Principal Solicitor has called upon the European Banking Authority (EBA) to make greater use of its Article 9 consumer protection mandate to help prevent misconduct in banking across the European Union (EU).

In a presentation to the Board of Supervisors of EBA in London yesterday, Mike Dailly noted that EBA had and was undertaking good measures in relation to inappropriate sales incentives and financial stability, however, business misconduct had now become a systemic, macro-prudential risk.

The cost of misconduct from the world’s top 10 banks was £150bn (2008-12) including fines for mis-selling, LIBOR and EURIBOR manipulation, breach of money laundering rules, and non-regulatory compliance. Mis-selling through inappropriate sales incentives schemes was at the heart of the problem and was an ongoing issue.

For example UK mis-sold payment protection insurance compensation payments were over £28bn and rising; in Spain compensation for mis-sold hybrid securities was at 2.9bn; in the Netherlands compensation for customers of the failed DSB Bank totalled 215m; the cost of the bail out of Banco Espirito Santo  in Portugal was 2.1bn; while Deutsche Bank AG was fined £227m last week by the UK's FCA for LIBOR and EURIBOR manipulation and repeatedly misleading the regulator's investigation.

GLC's Mike Dailly suggested a range of initiatives including greater legal accountability of banking executives; a binding ethical code of practice as part of a drive towards professionalism; more meaningful and targeted disclosure to empower consumers and minimise financial detriment; EU market studies on access, quality and pricing of personal current accounts, and analysis of cross-border barriers to banking; all backed up with appropriate legal guidelines and recommendations under Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No. 1093/2010.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

GLC's Mike Dailly appointed to the Board of the UK's Money Advice Service

The Financial Conduct Authority has appointed Govan Law Centre's Mike Dailly as a non-executive director of the Money Advice Service's Board, along with two other new non-executive directors, Caroline Fawcett and Nicola Bruce. All three appointments commence on 1 April.

Andy Briscoe, Chair of the Money Advice Service said: “I am delighted to welcome our new non-executive directors onto the Board. Between them they bring extensive experience of financial services and also considerable knowledge of the debt advice sector. They will bring valuable insight to the Money Advice Service and their joining us strengthens the Board as recommended by the Farnish review.”

"Raising the financial capability of the UK population is at the heart of everything we do at the Money Advice Service. Our 2015/16 business plan reflects our focus on helping consumers to plan ahead for key life events such as buying a home, having a baby or for retirement".

"Debt advice is also a key priority, encouraging more people to seek advice and continuing to raise standards across the sector. Our new board members are well placed to guide and support our talented executive team in taking forward this challenging but vital agenda.”

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. Set up by government to help people make the most of their money, it gives free, unbiased money advice across the UK – online, over the phone and face to face. Paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised through the Financial Conduct Authority, its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding & knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system), and to enhance the ability of the public to manage their own financial affairs.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Govan Law Centre endorses Living Rent campaign and calls for real rights for Scotland's private rented sector tenants

Govan Law Centre's Board of Trustees have agreed to endorse and support the Living Rent campaign in Scotland.

The campaign seeks proper fair rent controls in Scotland's private rented sector (PRS), as well as security of tenure for tenants in that sector.

Govan Law Centre (GLC) is deeply concerned that the greatest rise in 'severe' and 'extreme poverty' in Scotland is amongst PRS tenants.  While the latest annual figures show that severe poverty in other housing tenures have fallen in Scotland, the number in poverty in the PRS rose by 140,000.

Housing costs now amount on average to 24 per cent of the income of private renters - compared with 20 per cent a decade ago - and in comparison to 18 per cent of social renters’ income and 11 per cent for owner-occupiers with a mortgage.

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly, set out our calls for  progressive law reform and regulatory change in Scotland at the launch of the Glasgow Living Rent campaign at the CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28 March 2015.  Mike's speech is available (as a PDF) here

Private sector tenants need meaningful legal rights. The current landlord registration schemes needs revamped and strengthened. We need to remove the bad landlords and letting agencies from the register. 

We need a national strategy and co-ordination of enforcement. Proactive enforcement with legal teeth. 

GLC believes we need a Scotland-wide PRS inspectorate with full regulatory powers to set a proper standard of good practice, with the power to prosecute landlords and letting agencies across the country. 

We need a robust statutory mechanism to set rents at a fair and reasonable level. A mechanism that is practical and works for tenants. And most importantly, we need genuine security of tenure for PRS tenants.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Pension reforms: liberation or freedom to lose your pension pot?!

From April 6th anyone aged 55 or over will be able to access all of their pension savings as a cash lump sum if it is in a 'Defined Contribution' scheme (as opposed to 'Defined Benefit' scheme which promises a specific income/salary). 

This lump sum is money you've been saving in your pension pot over many years, if not decades, and it has generally been paid in 'tax free'. In other words, the income tax normally deducted from your salary and employers contributions has been paid into the pot too.

This is because it has been a long standing policy of all UK Governments to encourage and help people make provision for their retirement and later life.

The UK Government has been promoting next month's changes to UK pension law as 'the pensions freedom revolution'.  Yet, empowerment to access all of your pension pot from 6 April 2015 might also be seen as freedom to lose your money or get ripped off.

What has not been publicised with equal vigour and prominence is that if you 'cash-in' your pension fund next month you can only take 25% of it tax free.  The other 75% is taxed at your marginal rate. Let's look at an illustration.

Example at 6 April 2015
So you currently pay 20% tax - and let say you earn £24,000 per annum - and you cash-in a pension pot worth £50,000. You can obtain £12,500 tax free.

The balance of £37,500 is treated as your income during the 2015/16 tax year. So your earnings are now £61,500. In relation to the balance of your pension pot you are liable to pay 20% rate tax on the first £7,785, and 40% tax on £29,715 of that balance. Your extra tax bill is £13,443.

To think of it another way - you had a pension pot worth £50,000, but cashing in all of it at once next month (instead of taking a quarter of it tax free) means you lose almost £15,000 in tax!

So you need to think very cautiously and extremely carefully whether you should 'liberate' all of your life savings. 

People often underestimate how long they live for, and making the wrong decision now could not only be expensive, but could prove detrimental in later life.  You can obtain free online guidance from the UK Government's Pension Wise online service and the Money Advice Service.

Two further issues are worth mentioning. First, whatever you do don't get scammed. If something sounds to good to be true, it usually isn't true. So don't get ripped off. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also has good information on pension scams.  If in doubt take independent financial advice from an advisor regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

We also post below a helpful '60 seconds' tips on pension law changes from personal finance broadcaster and writer Fergus Muirhead.

Second, the law remains unsatisfactory and unclear as regards the ability of a trustee in bankruptcy to access a Defined Contributions pension fund. There are conflicting English High Court decisions, for example the cases of Raithatha v Williamson [2012] EWHC 909 (Ch), and Horton v Henry [2014] EWHC 4209 (Ch).

Govan Law Centre believes the position should be place beyond doubt: trustees in bankruptcy should not be able to access an uncrystallised pension fund (in other words a pension which is still locked and not accessed by the debtor).  The law should be clarified by the UK Government and Scottish Government (where bankruptcy is devolved).

Disclaimer: this blog provides information only and does not represent legal or financial advice. You should always obtain your own independent and regulated legal or financial advice from a solicitor or qualified independent financial advisor.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Recruitment: GLC Education Law Unit - vacancies for parent sub-committee members

  • Job type: Project Delivery Sub-Committee Members
  • Status: Management Board
  • Closing date: 31/03/2015
  • Location: Glasgow


Govan Law Centre’s Education Law Unit aims to uphold, protect and enforce the rights of pupils and parents across Scotland by providing expert legal, and non-legal representation at tribunals and courts; provide advice and information about education law; and work with stakeholders to influence legislation and policy with regard to education and the law.
We seek two parents to be part of our Project Delivery Sub-Committee to provide strategic guidance and manage the performance at the Education Law Unit alongside our current Committee members. The Committee’s functions are as follows:
  • Provide guidance and direction, make decisions to steer the progress and delivery of the project;
  • Monitor and approve the progress of the project against the aims of the project;
  • Approve project documentation provided by the project manager;
  • Provides timely and appropriate visibility of project progress and key risks and issues to the Board of Trustees as required; and
  • Proactively managed project risks.
The meetings take place on a quarterly basis and there is no payment to attend such meetings, although reasonable travel expenses can be met.

Organisation profile:

Govan law centre (GLC) is an independent, charitable community controlled law centre operating in Scotland.


Govan Law Centre (GLC) is a registered Scottish charity: SCO30193. All GLC legal services are provided by the independent legal practice of Dailly & Co., Solicitors. The Education Law Unit is partly funded by the Third Sector Early Intervention Fund, a joint initiative of the Scottish Government and the Big Fund in Scotland. Let’s Talk ASN is a joint initiative of Govan Law Centre and Kindred Advocacy (Charity No. SC000264). It is funded by the Scottish Government.

Application notes:

If you are interested, please contact Anne Taylor by email on or by letter to Govan Law Centre, Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Unit 4, Glasgow, G51 2BZ. Expressions of interest should be returned no later than 31 March 2015.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tenant's survey 'offensive to landlords' say Morrisons

We have to say Govan Law Centre are a bit disappointed with Morrisons. We sent the supermarket a letter to ask if we could carry out some important research. We just want to know how many people in our catchment area live in private rented accommodation, why they are living there, do they enjoy it, and what’s their general experience.

We are seeing many more families in housing need or even homeless who are living in private rented accommodation. We need to understand why?  We approached Morrisons Cardonald  ‘Community Champion’ asking if we could carry out the research within the entrance atrium in their Cardonald store. We intended to ask a few survey questions of shoppers. Just to seek the views of local people. This work will help Govan Law Centre meet the needs of vulnerable people.
Morrison’s in Cardonald is a perfect place to carry out this work. Its a popular shop and the surrounding area has a high level of private rented sector tenants. We were delighted that Shawlands Arcade, Govan Shopping Centre, Glasgow City Council, the Pearce Institute and others have all welcomed us.
But Morrison’s Cardonald Store spokeswoman said that although she ‘welcomed the idea of a tenants survey’ she ‘would not allow Govan Law Centre research to be carried out on Morrison’s premises because ‘the survey would be offensive to private landlords, and as a business Morrisons would not want to offend customers who were also private landlords’.
The questionnaire forms part of a more in depth piece of research which will help us improve our prevention of homelessness services. We would be delighted to hear the views of private landlords as well.
It’s vital that organisations like Govan Law Centre can carry out this type of work so that the voice of tenants is heard. Private landlords are already represented by the powerful lobby group the Scottish Association of Landlords. This organisation has the ear of the Scottish Government. Scotland has 330,000 private sector tenants who do not have any such lobby. We need to talk to them so we can better meet their needs.

Morrisons pride themselves in providing a 'fantastic service'.  On this occasion we don't believe this has happened.


Monday, 26 January 2015

Govan Law Centre and Children 1st launch new family support project in Glasgow

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has launched a joint project with Children 1st to improve the lives of over 60 ‘just coping’ families each year. We will provide legal services and money advice to families with young children who are already working with Children 1st in the Glasgow South.  The project is funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and will be led by Lorna Walker, senior solicitor at GLC, and Alison McLaughlin, money advisor with Children 1st (based at GLC).

GLC will work along side the many family and early years services run by Children 1st in Glasgow. Our  legal services will be aimed at families who are coping but whose debt and legal problems are in danger of becoming too much for them.  We will ensure these families can access appropriate  legal advice and representation alongside the intensive family support that the existing Children 1st services provide.

The project will also provide training to Children 1st staff so they can give basic advice and information, and ensure they have a basic understanding of the law as it relates to debt and benefits and that they are up to date with any changes.

GLC will run an advice service for family support workers and their clients; support family support workers who have complex cases; and take on legal case work referrals including defending evictions, appealing to social security tribunal and taking on judicial reviews and appeals to the Supreme Courts.

This is an exciting  innovative project and fits with GLC's aim to intervene early as we can before problems become even more stressful, complicated and expensive for our clients.  We will embed legal and advice services in existing models of family support, meaning we can intervene as early as we can to resolve immediate or escalating debt crises alongside other ongoing family issues, so that families can achieve the long term goals they are working towards with Children 1st.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Iain Nisbet appointed Convener to School Closure Review Panel in Scotland

The appointment of Govan Law Centre's Iain Nisbet as the first Convener of the School Closure Review Panel in Scotland has been confirmed.  Until now, school closure proposals that have been called in under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 have been determined by the Scottish Ministers.  

Amendments made by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will change that process so that  school closure proposals that are called in by Scottish Ministers will be referred to the Convener of the School Closure Review Panels.  The Convener will be required to constitute a School Closure Review Panel to determine each individual case.

Mr Nisbet - is the Head of Education Law at Govan Law Centre, where he advises and provides training for parents, schools and education authorities on all aspects of education law.  He is the Chair of the advisory group on Additional Support for Learning, and a former Non-Executive Director with Education Scotland.  He was until recently, a member of the Parent Council of his local school.

This appointment will be for five years and will run from January 12, 2015 to January 11, 2020. This appointment is regulated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.


Monday, 12 January 2015

First appointment to the Justice First Fellowship in Scotland announced

Deidre Flanigan
GLC is delighted to announce the first Scottish appointment of the Justice First Fellowship. The Justice First Fellowship is a prestigious new scheme established to support the next generation of students committed to public interest and social justice issues who want to pursue a career in social welfare law. The scheme has been established by The Legal Education Foundation in partnership with Govan Law Centre and other social welfare organisations across the UK.

The first Fellow to be appointed in Scotland is Deirdre Flanigan. Deidre has an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights and an LLB in Law and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Edinburgh. She was the Outreach Coordinator at the Scottish Human Rights Commission, her role was to assist civil society in taking a human rights based approach to their work and to engage more with the UN human rights system including treaty body reviews and Universal Periodic Review.
Deidre gained monitoring experience working for a human rights NGO in Nepal with a particular emphasis on the duty of the state to ensure accountability for human rights in a post-conflict society. She was a research consultant in developing Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights with a particular focus on economic and social rights including the right to an adequate standard of living.
She has also worked as an occasional case law reviewer for Oxford Publications of international criminal law cases and has additional experience with a criminal defence firm in Glasgow and a commercial firm in Argentina. She has volunteer experience in several fields including advocacy with a focus on the adequacy of living standards of temporary accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.