They say the law’s an ass, and when it comes to making sense of legal jargon most of us have been stumped at some point.
However, students at New College Lanarkshire have a way with words and they’ve come up with an easy to understand guide to the law in Scotland which will next week get the First Minister’s seal of approval.
Their 20-page booklet is designed primarily, but not exclusively, to help refugees struggling with a different culture when they arrive in this country.
It’s hoped it will also assist anyone already living here who might be unfamiliar with the raft of laws that affect our everyday lives.
The students will attend the official lauch of the booklet at Hampden Park next Tuesday. Those present will include First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, who is Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley and John Wilkes, of the Scottish Refugee Council.
The legal services students based in Motherwell were invited to get involved in the project after bumping into the Lord Advocate at a murder trial two years ago.
They spent months researching a wide range of issues, from divorce and parental responsibilities to the laws on money lending, litter and stop and search.
Their booklet also explains legislation covering driving and people at work. It has useful information for victims of crimes including child and domestic abuse.
Student Karen Yuill, who acted as project manager, said: “It’s been an honour to work on this. The Lord Advocate could have approached a top class university, but he chose us. As a mature student of 40, I never dreamed I would get the chance to help others like this.”
Law lecturer Eleanor Lafferty added: “It’s been an amazing opportunity for the students.
“The guide is in 11 different languages and will feature on the websites of the Crown Office and the Scottish Refugee Council. We ourselves are distributing 500 copies and posters promoting it will be in the likes of surgeries and housing offices.”
Ruth McQuaid, procurator fiscal for Lanarkshire said: “The students have created a fantastic resource. We don’t want anyone unintentionally breaking the law through a lack of understanding. We also don’t want people to suffer in silence due to a failure to appreciate that they have been subjected to criminal behaviour and should be contacting the police.
“We want to play our part along with New College Lanarkshire in making Scotland a safer place for all and education plays a big role in that.”