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Bill to close legal loophole on partnerships

A Bill designed to close the legal loophole allowing partnerships to evade prosecution by dissolving, as happened in the Rosepark fire in Uddingston, has been introduced to the House of Lords by the Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness.

The House of Lords gave the Partnerships (Prosecution) (Scotland) Bill its First Reading at Westminster.

It is the first wholly Scottish Bill to be introduced at Westminster since 2004, making it the third since devolution to have Scotland-only extent.

The Bill takes forward the Scottish Law Commission's proposals to reform the criminal liability of partnerships in Scots law.

The issue came into focus following the death of 14 elderly residents in a fire at the Rosepark nursing home in Lanarkshire in 2004. The Crown Office made three separate attempts to prosecute those alleged to be responsible but the case failed because of the loophole which prevented the prosecution of a partnership once it had been dissolved.

The Scottish Law Commission undertook an assessment of that legal anomaly and suggested a number of proposals to address it. The Bill presents a sound, but simple, way to ensure that partnerships - and culpable members - can no longer escape prosecution by dissolving.

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