Criminal Defence

Woodward Lawson are able to provide a high level of personal guidance throughout all forms of criminal prosecution in Aberdeen and elsewhere in Scotland. We provide expert representation in all types of criminal cases in the High Court, Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Courts.

Civil Litigation

Woodward Lawson represent clients in a broad range of civil court cases, both in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Contractual Disputes

Contracts form the backbone of daily life in any business. Occasionally, difficulties arise in relation to what was actually agreed and disputes occur if one party does not do what the other expects them to do.

Guardianship & Incapacity

We have significant experience in relation to Guardianship applications both from the perspective of raising applications for Guardianship and also in opposing such applications in disputed cases. Ian Woodward-Nutt also regularly acts as a Court appointed reporter in relation to Guardianship cases.

Building Disputes

Whether you are a builder seeking payment for works which have run into difficulties or a client receiving possible defective building work, it is best to seek our advice at the earliest possible juncture.

Road Traffic Offences

Road Traffic Law forms part of the Criminal Law that is a broad and technically complicated area. If you have been charged by the police or have received papers intimating a criminal prosecution for an alleged road traffic offence, it is important to take advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity.

Debt Collection

Every business encounters debtors from time to time and this can seriously affect important cash flow. At Woodward Lawson, we provide a robust one-stop service from seven day letters to pursuing court action in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Property & Boundary Disputes

Few aspects of life can cause such concern as a neighbour asserting rights over your land or preventing you from doing something on their land that you thought you had a right to do.

Divorce, Separation & Cohabitation

The breakdown of a relationship, be it marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation, leads to all manner of financial worries and practical difficulties as the inevitable change in your personal circumstances occurs. This is especially so if there are major assets which require to be divided.

Road Haulage Representation

Woodward Lawson are pleased to offer representation in all matters concerning road haulage and transport law.

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News & Comment

Employees Beware!

03 March 2016

Under sections 1 and 5 of the Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act, 1969, a director of a limited company should ensure that there is insurance in place should one of the company’s employees be injured.

In the case of Campbell v Peter Gordon Joiners Limited and Peter Gordon (2015), the sole director of the building company did not have the appropriate insurance in place. One of the employees was injured whilst operating an electrically powered woodworking saw with a circular blade. Later, the company went into liquidation.

The employer of the limited company raised an action against the director personally on the basis of a breach of duty to arrange proper and adequate insurance and the consequent loss that he would otherwise have received in the circumstances under the Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act, 1930.

This seems to be a fair enough approach and Lord Glennie in the Outer House of the Court of Session held in the employee’s favour.

But, Lord Glennie’s decision was overturned in the Inner House appeal. In a majority decision of 2 to 1, it was held that there was no civil obligation on the former director to pay damages. The appeal Court considered 1969 Act imposed a duty under section 5 on the company alone supported by a draconian criminal penalty on the company. The 1969 Act did not impose any duty on directors or officers of the company personally.

There was a strong dissenting judgment from Lord Drummond-Young who held that whilst there was a general rule that where there is a criminal sanction in a statute, there is no civil liability, this general rule was subject to exceptions. Here, the exception was that the statute was one where “upon the true construction of the Act it is apparent that the obligation – was imposed for the benefit of a particular class of individuals, as in the case of the Factories Acts and similar legislation.” He took the view that directors are obliged as an aspect of their general responsibility for the management of the company to ensure that it has implemented the obligation.

In this regard, he considered that section 1 of the Act was wide enough to allow this if read in conjunction with section 5. However, he also added reference to common law in relation to director’s liability which “strongly supports the view that a director who is complicit in the company’s breach of the duty under section 1 should be civilly liable to an injured employee” and he “could not conclude that there was anything unfair in imposing personal liability on the [former director].”

In a vigorous conclusion, he stated that it was “not appropriate to frustrate that policy through an over-literal construction of the statute, or an excessively conceptual approach to its provisions.”

Such is the difference in approach between judges which can make a huge difference to the result. We have given more space to Lord Drummond-Young’s views because we are in no doubt as to which approach we find preferable. The purpose of this law is to allow injured employees claim damages for their loss, and if its aims can be avoided in the literal manner put forward by the majority in the appeal court, it fails the public.