The legislation was put in place to close a loophole in the law which became apparent following a fire at the Rosepark Nursing Home in 2004. Three attempts by the Crown Office to prosecute those responsible failed because their partnership had dissolved before charges were brought against them.
The Bill will result in a limited reform of Scots law on partnerships and prevents dissolution and change of membership from being technical obstacles to prosecution of partnerships.
In brief the main provisions in the Act are:
A partnership which dissolves after commencement of the Act may nevertheless be prosecuted as if it had not dissolved, provided the prosecution is commenced within 5 years from dissolution;
The prosecution of a partnership can proceed in the event of a change in membership. This is necessary since the old law may be that a change in membership establishes a new legal entity, different to the legal entity that existed before the change in membership. This could have the same effect as the dissolution of a partnership in that it would allow the evasion of prosecution for an offence committed by the original partnership;
Where under the old law, individual partners may be prosecuted for a partnership offence, dissolution or change of membership will not prevent such prosecution.