Storm brewing: The 2017 revaluation of business rates taking effect from this April is causing particular concern in Scotland’s renewables sector. Figures published by Scottish Renewables in February 2017 have suggested that smaller hydro, wind and solar projects are facing rates increases of up to 650%. Beyond immediate concerns regarding impact on cashflows, Scottish Renewables has expressed concern that such significant rises have the potential to threaten future investment in smaller renewable projects.

Think Green: Public interest in the imminent privatisation of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) continues. Whilst it is a UK Government construct and investment, assurances have been provided that the significance of the GIB for Scotland, as a Scottish employer and headquartered business, has been considered as part of the bid and subsequent privatisation process.

Events may now have been overtaken, however, with the launch of judicial review proceedings by Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL), reportedly the unsuccessful bidder for GIB, on the basis that the bidding process itself has not followed the bidding criteria published by the UK Government. The judicial review process may eventually provide more transparency regarding the bidding process, the lack of which to date has been a key criticism by politicians.

Third party contracts: Finally, continuing the themes of modernisation and transparency, the Contract (Third Party Rights) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament at the end of January 2017. This new legislation seeks to clarify the rights of those who, while not a party to a particular contract, intend to benefit from or wish to rely on it.

This will make contracting simpler for large corporate groups, provide clarity as to who is, and who is not, entitled to the benefit of a particular contract and – importantly for those of us north of the border – align the position in Scotland more closely to that in England and Wales, ensuring that Scots law retains a place in conversations regarding the most appropriate governing law of a contract. Click here to see the thoughts of our head of commercial services.