Issued on behalf of Accountant in Bankruptcy
First consolidation bill in 12 years goes before Scottish Parliament.
Scottish laws on insolvency are to be brought together into one piece of legislation for the first time in a generation as the new Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill 2016 is introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill aims to capture all of the amendments made to the primary legislation governing bankruptcy in Scotland, the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985, as well as new laws brought in since, including the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into force in April this year.
Policy officials from Accountant in Bankruptcy have worked with the Scottish Law Commission, which published a consultation paper on consolidating bankruptcy legislation in 2011 and has led the process of drafting the Bill, to bring the proposals before parliament.
By consolidating all of the various elements of legislation in one place, the aim of the Bill is to make bankruptcy policy more accessible, both for the money advice community and those experiencing financial difficulties.
The Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill is only the second ever piece of primary consolidation legislation considered by the Scottish Parliament, following the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Consolidation Act 2003.
The introduction of the Bill to the parliament signals the start of the parliamentary process, which will see scrutiny by committee. Subject to parliamentary approval, it is anticipated the measure will come into force towards the end of 2016, together with updated accompanying subordinate legislation.
Welcoming the introduction of the Bill, Business Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Pulling together all the enactments of bankruptcy into one statute provides a platform to deliver debt solutions fit for the 21st century.
"The time is right to bring all of these elements together. The 1985 Act has been heavily amended over the years and has lost coherence and structure as a result.
"This Bill also takes in the 2014 Act, which brought in a number of ambitious and far-reaching reforms and placed money advice at the heart of the solution to problem debt.
"We have consulted with stakeholders and allowed this legislation to bed-in before undertaking this important work to bring clarity to the law for the benefit of both money advisers and people suffering under the burden of debt."
The consolidation exercise has been warmly received by the money advice and insolvency industry.
David Menzies, Director of Insolvency with chartered accountancy professional body ICAS said: "ICAS welcomes the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill 2016 being introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
"Bringing the many reforms to bankruptcy law in Scotland over the past 30 years into a single piece of legislation will be extremely useful to insolvency practitioners and others working in the sector who currently face having to navigate their way through numerous pieces of legislation.
"We support the work to fully modernise the bankruptcy regime in Scotland and this marks another significant step to achieving that aim."
Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government with responsibility for administering the process of personal bankruptcy, administering the Debt Arrangement Scheme and recording corporate insolvencies in Scotland. www.aib.gov.uk