Scottish Independence and how this affects the legal process

Scottish Independence and how this affects the legal process

After the Scottish National Party (SNP) won a majority vote in the Scottish Parliament in the 2011 General Election, negotiations between the Scottish government and the UK government led to an agreement being reached between the parties.

It stipulated that a referendum could be held on Scottish independence, a policy fundamental to the SNP’s manifesto.

Having been passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2013 and receiving Royal Assent a little over a month later, it was decided that the referendum would be held on 18 September 2014, with the question “should Scotland be an Independent Country?” requiring a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote.

What are the legal and economic implications of independence?

Michael Gove has said that Scotland would not be allowed to keep the pound sterling as its official currency which will lead to a number of economic implications.

This includes threats from Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland to move its head offices away from Scotland in the event of a break away from the UK.

In fact, three quarters of businesses in Scotland have said that it is essential that Scotland keep the pound, but this does not look likely, as all three of the main political parties have supported the notion that Scotland must find a new currency in the event of independence.

President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has stated that Scotland would not be allowed to automatically join the EU if it were to become independent.

This could have legal implications in terms of the ability of its citizens to travel freely throughout member states or indeed move to England or Wales without a visa.

In terms of education, the SNP has said that while Scottish students and incoming students from other EU countries would be allowed to study at university in Scotland for free, residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland would have to pay for tuition.

Wills and inheritance 

Perhaps one the most significant legal implications of Scottish independence is the differing laws with regard to inheritance.

Saga Legal say that the validity of a will made in a foreign country ‘depends on the country where the will was written’ and it is unclear whether a will written in England will have any legal basis in Scotland following a vote for independence.