Coincidences in old Scots law

There are a few resources in the library that we don’t have cause to consult very often, the statutes of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament being an example. As our set is huge (see the photo below with tissue box for scale) we mainly use them to impress work experience kids!

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However earlier this week I had a request for an early 17th century Act so had reason to open one of the volumes and while looking through it the Act below from the 1621 session of Parliament caught our eye.

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Later the same day I was at the National Library of Scotland for a talk by Colin Beattie MSP on 17th century Scottish history as he has interpreted it through his collection of original documents. It seemed quite a coincidence that one of the first documents he showed us was the Act above! Twice in the same day joking about the same Act!

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Bank holidays

We’ve just had a spate of public holidays in the UK, the usual May Monday bank holidays and a public holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  As usual we were open on both the Monday holidays and I was at my desk in the library working away.  My previous employer also didn’t close on the May holidays so this seems quite normal to me; I think I have to go away back to 1997 to find the last time I got a May bank holiday off!

I have therefore been a little bemused by the reactions I’ve had from some people to me being at work on the holidays, especially this week when many people had a 4 day weekend.  Comments have ranged from the mild “Oh, I just assumed you’d be off, everyone else is”, to “lucky you getting double time”, to “don’t your employers know employment law? “to the extreme “that’s against your human rights”.  I’ll take each of these reactions in turn –

“oh I just assumed you’d be off” – why would someone assume the opening hours of a business they know nothing about? It makes business sense for us to be open so we are; I bet there are plenty other companies who’d rather have been open but maybe aren’t quite brave enough.

“lucky you getting double time” – this comment came from someone working in the public sector, maybe double time is common there.  I’m in the commercial world and as it was a normal working day for us why on earth would we be paid double time?

It really drives me mad when people make statements about the law which are incorrect and show that they actually have no idea what they are talking about, these two comments are perfect examples of this –

“don’t your employers know employment law?” – well of course they do, I work for lawyers!  There is no right in UK law to take time off on a bank holiday.  Leave is governed by the Working Time Regulations 1998; these Regulations give employees the right to the equivalent of 8 public holidays but there is no statutory right to time off on the actual public holiday days themselves.  The leave that we are granted is well above the statutory minimum in these Regulations, we know the law better then the ill informed person who made this comment.

“that’s against your human rights” – ridiculous!  How many people that claim something is against someone’s human rights have actually ready the Human Rights Act?  I hope this comment was facetious!

While it’s nice that people were so concerned for me working on a holiday there are lots of upsides that they didn’t think of – no interruptions from people trying to sell me publications I don’t want, no piles of junk mail to sort through, great for getting caught up with the admin.  And I get to take a day off when I want to to rather than at some fixed point in the calendar which might not suit my plans.

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And yes we did get the extra Jubilee Tuesday holiday off work

Law at the Open University LearningSpace

These days the enquiries that come to the library from fee-earners are the really tricky ones that they can’t answer with a quick dip into Westlaw or PLC and an up to date knowledge of law and business is really helpful for library staff are to tackle these.  It’s a long while since I studied law (an HNC in legal studies at Glasgow College of Commerce in 2002) so I felt in need of a refresher, but without the time commitment or cost of a law degree.

I remembered reading something in an Open University alumini magazine about free course from the OU so went digging around on their website and found the OpenLearn LearningSpace which is crammed full of interesting looking courses, all free and online.

So far I have restricted myself to the Law section and started with “An Introduction to Law in Contemporary Scotland“; I read through this unit very quickly in a lot less than the recommended 10 hours. I don’t think I learnt anything new from this unit but it was certainly a useful reminder.  Next I looked at “Europe and the Law“; again I have studied this before but things have changed since then with new countries joining up and all the hoo ha over the Constitution.  I found this unit to be a useful refresher on the legislative procedure in the European Union and also ordered the recent developments in my mind.

My intention is to work through all the Law units which have relevance to the work my firm does. I then plan to study some of the units in the Business and Management and Computing and ICT sections which should be useful for soft skills and also some new knowledge on the financial sector.

I have asked the assistant librarian to also take a little time each week to study the relevant units and brush up her knowledge too.

And as for me, well I’m addicted to studying. I’ve had a wee break since the last time I was with the OU so who knows where this may lead ….