Health & Safety

Earlier this week I posted on our Public Law Blog about the “Edinburgh Agreement” which set the terms on which the Scottish Parliament could introduce legislation for the independence referendum.

So what are the issues created by independence in a health and safety context? Well, currently health and safety legislation is reserved to the UK Parliament under schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998. It is currently outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament to pass any health and safety laws.

If Scotland were to become independent would all the health and safety law fall away? Sadly – for fans of deregulation – probably not. It is likely that an independent Scotland would preserve the existing law at the date of independence (including all current UK wide and EU law) and then diverge from the rest of the UK from that point on. A not so modern example of this occurring is when the US became independent on July 4 1776, the existing English law was preserved until the various new states began to make their own laws.

In other news I was at an Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers seminar earlier in the week. The guest speaker was Paul Philip, Director of Standards and Fitness to Practise at the General Medical Council. Paul explained that whatever the outcome of an independence referendum, the GMC was well placed due to already having a strong Scottish presence. The same can probably be said of the HSE – or a new Scottish HSE as it might well become.


Niall McLean

Associate at Brodies LLP
Niall is a member of Brodies' market leading Government, Regulation and Competition practice. Niall gives both public and private sector clients advice in a broad range of areas including: corporate crime and investigations, governance, defamation and reputation management, public law and statutory interpretation.
Niall McLean