News & Updates

Extending Scotland’s Coronavirus Legislation – Again

Steven Docherty

Published bySteven Docherty

21st June 2021

Extending Scotland’s Coronavirus Legislation – Again

Surprising almost no-one, on 18 June 2021 the Scottish Government introduced a new Bill into the Scottish Parliament which, when passed, will have the effect of extending Scotland’s Coronavirus-related legislation for another 6 months, to 31 March 2022.

The new Bill amends the expiry date of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020. These Acts were the main means by which the Scottish Government set out to give economic, non-health, protections to the Scottish public during the pandemic. In particular, the 2020 Acts provided for:-

• Protecting residential tenants from eviction by making it harder for landlords to terminate tenancies and/or get orders for eviction.

• Preventing enforcement of debts by creditors by limiting the actions which could be taken by Sheriff Officers against a person’s assets.

• Allowing the Scottish courts to function remotely / electronically so that people didn’t have to go into the court building.

• Increasing the threshold for bankruptcy from £3,000 to £10,000.

• Extending the period of effectiveness of a moratorium to protect debtors from bankruptcy and other enforcement action by their creditors, from 6 weeks to 6 months.

Some of the provisions in the 2020 Act have already expired, but assuming the new Bill passes, the main ones listed above will now continue to have effect until 31 March 2022.

Other provisions in the original Acts are considered to be no longer necessary so will expire as planned on 30 September 2021. This includes:-

• Protecting commercial tenants from eviction by providing an extended notice period, to 14 weeks. That period goes back to 14 days from 30 September 2021. This will make it easier for commercial landlords to evict their tenants for not paying their rent, and makes it important for tenants to communicate effectively with their landlords to try to negotiate rent concessions.

• The ability of debtors to make multiple applications, within a 12 month period, for moratoriums to protect themselves from diligence / bankruptcy). The ending of this provision may see a rush of debtors applying for moratoriums before the deadline.

The justification for the new Bill is stated in the Policy Memorandum as “The effect of this is to extend only those provisions which the Scottish Government considers remain essential in order for public services to be able to continue to discharge their functions in the way they were intended to, or which are required for a longer period to respond to the pandemic.”

We will continue to monitor the legislative changes which affect you and your business.

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