Taking rights seriously

LAST WEEK’s WS Charities Conference was another successful event at the Signet Library, attended by leading lawyers in the charity sector, including legal advisers from OSCR. The event was chaired by Alastair Keatinge WS of law firm Lindsays and sponsored by Standard Life Wealth and included discussions of cross-border issues by Gavin McEwan and trading for charities by Jandy Sevenson of accountants Henderson Loggie. As ever, the “beautiful” Signet Library was much admired by delegates on Twitter, with those new to the building including lawyers from fast-growing Irish firm Mason Hughes & Curran.

THIS WEEK began with more success for Colonnades, with The Scotsman naming the Signet Library’s restaurant one of the top five in Edinburgh. “A book lover’s (and foodie’s) dream” the review found, in “one of the city’s most beautiful restaurant settings”.

THE KEEPER of the Signet Lord Mackay and WS Fellow Lord Hope are two of the many legal figures currently figuring in events in the House of Lords, as the Brexit Bill makes its way through the Upper House. On Tuesday the House of Lords voted against the government in an amendment stating parliament should be allowed a “meaningful” final judgement on the Brexit deal negotiated by PM Theresa May and her ministers. Tory grandee Lord Heseltine was sacked Wednesday morning from his role as a government advisor for leading the rebellion. In an entertaining exchange on Channel 4 news Baronness Hayter (who supported the amendment) winced her way through an explanation by Lord Finkelstein (who opposed it) as to what the Supreme Court judgement had meant for Brexit in parliament, before delivering a fairly effective smack-down: “Lord Hope does not take the same view as Lord Finkelstein and I think that Lord Hope is actually a rather better lawyer”.

THE BBC documentary Meet the Lords, which continued this week, could hardly have asked for better advance publicity than the events of the last few days. The programme has been accused of “sexing-up” the Lords by House of Lords Speaker Lord Fowler, although to most viewers this seems to be a relative term. The fly-on-the wall format reveals both the controversial aspects of an unelected house, (hereditary peers as represented by the “incredibly stupid” Lord Palmer – his words, by the way) and unsung heroes such as Lord Dubs working on an amendment to bring a small number of child refugees to Britain. Whilst senior legal and academic brains conscientiously wrestle with how to improve sloppily written legislation from the House of Commons, Lord Palmer is exercised by the loss of “the television room” where he had a “comfortable” chair to enjoy “important sporting events”. Whether the programme improves the public’s view of the Lords and the laws they produce remains to be seen.

THERE ARE many reasons to run for political office but avoiding criminal prosecution is not usually one of them. Scandal-hit French presidential candidate François Fillon has survived a bid by his party to oust him over allegations of taxpayer-funded “fake jobs” for his wife and children over 15 years.  Fillon denies wrongdoing and alleges he’s being unfairly targeted by judges and the media. Interestingly, the French constitution confers immunity from criminal charges on the office of president. Fillon is down in the polls, behind the far right Front National’s Marine Le Pen and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron. The final election runoff takes place on 7 May.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.