Robert Turcan, Land and Property

Robert comments on matters surrounding recent changes in the agricultural sector. With Europe facing one sovereign debt crisis after another, there are more pressing problems than the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This being so, the replacement to the Single Farm Payment is likely to be deferred, creating uncertainty for farmers. Robert states"It is pretty clear that there will be some form of subsidies for agriculture going forward. There are very few farms that would survive without subsidy."

Robert continues on to discuss the worrying suggestions coming out of the Land Reform Review being conducted by Dr Alison Elliott. One"toxic" proposal is a possible reintroduction of the debate over tenants' right to buy."That would kill off landlords' interest in letting farms go at a stroke."


Simon Mackintosh, Charities

Simon discusses the change in the way charities operate in recent years."There is a lot of focus on trustees' duties as far as governance is concerned coming out of OSCR, and a focus on the way in which those trustees go about their decision making and maintain independence of action."

As OSCR moves on from the schools review, it is likely to look towards issues such as how the Equality Act affects Scottish charities and also the operation of charities abroad.

Another important development is the introduction of Scottish charitable incorporated organisations(SCIOs), which Simon describes as"light companies regulated by guarantee".

"They are only regulated by OSCR and not by Companies House, and they are designed to wrap a corporate shell around charities."


Alasdair Loudon, Divorce and Family

Alasdair states that it is clear that we are back to pre-recession levels of divorce. He comments on decisions affecting financial settlements and the clarification the Scottish courts have given to the famous Gow v Grant case, concerning the rights of former cohabitants to seek financial provision from their partner.

Alasdair states"It is clear that the courts have been given the green light to interpret the legislation more expansively than had originally been permitted, so we will likely see larger rewards, made on the overall balance of the economic advantages and disadvantages incurred by the parties."


Douglas Connell comments on the private client sector

"There is pressure on fees, as clients want more for less, but they also want a long-term relationship with seasoned advisers - and want to know that there is a succession plan. We have focused on that.

"We are now in the fifth year of the downturn and flat seems to be the new normal, but there are some glimmers of light. The business is changing from the 'how to?' questions - how to conserve wealth, pass capital to the next generation, etc - to the 'what if?' questions. What if I run out of money?, what if my pension doesn't live up to expectations, what if Scotland becomes independent? The tone of the conversation has changed quite radically."

Douglas asserts that Turcan Connell's interdisciplinary service continues to be highly-respected.

"If clients think you can do your job and offer interdisciplinary advice, they will pay for that. You have to be where clients want you to be - and that was a big factor in opening in Glasgow."

Douglas also comments on the introduction of ABS, saying"We see some interesting things. It's not just Tesco and Co-op but collective marketing organisations - a franchise, convenience store approach - and it might provide jobs in Scotland. There will also be a lot more online law and commoditisation."