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

Wills and Clarity of Intention

15 August 2021

Wills come in many shapes and forms. It is quite possible that quite informal writings can attain an importance which the person writing them may not have meant.

25 years after the commencement of The Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act, 1995, the common law still comes in handy. Section 7 (2) (c) of the Act provided that signing your (a) full name or (b) surname plus a forename or initial or a familiar form of forename are all valid forms of signature. That seems straightforward enough.

But, there is an exception in section 7(2)(c) which permits the use of another name or description or initials or mark but only where two matters are established, namely, that (i) it is the deceased’s usual method of signing documents of the type in question and (ii) that it was intended as a signature of that document. What is involved in this two-stage test?

A couple of far older cases illustrate the effect of the first part of this test since there has actually been no reported cases on the point since the 1995 Act came into force. In the case of Draper v Thomason (1954), it was held that signing the document “Connie” was sufficient. In the case of Rhodes v Peterson (1971), it was held that signing the document “Mum” was sufficient.

With regards to the second part of the test in section 7(2)(c ) test, there has been one relatively recent case, namely, Hamilton, Petitioner (2015). In this case, the document in question had been adequately signed by the deceased thereby passing the first part of the test. However, there was a dispute as to whether the deceased had actually intended the document to be a will. This was because it was in the form of a fairly colloquial message discovered in a notebook which had remained private until the time of the deceased’s death . The message read:

“20/01/12 Nearly 51! Life is shit at this time! *Please remember, If Anne is still alive, I want her to have my wealthy remains – the house, pension, savings and everything else… I hope my family accept this IT IS MY WISH (signed) Melanie Gibson”

The Court decided that it was not the informal manner of the document which was important. The primary test was the language used. In this case, the Sheriff Principal paid particular attention to the phrase “wealthy remains”. He considered that that phrase suggested a clearly concluded testamentary intention, namely, it had been intended as a will.

However, three issues arise from this. Firstly, the informality of the writing did lead to costly litigation. Secondly, it did lead to uncertainty. The Sheriff Principal’s decision on appeal was actually different from the Sheriff’s decision. Thirdly, the informality of writing the will in a private notebook meant that there was a serious risk that it may never have seen the light of day had the notebook fallen into the wrong hands.

The conclusion is simple. The law can act as a “safety net” in certain circumstances. But, it is always worthwhile setting aside time to instruct a solicitor to draft a will for you and keep it in their firm’s safe. Then, there is no doubt as to what you intended for your loved ones.