A consultation on legislation allowing public bodies to apologise without fear or litigation has been launched.
The Apologies (Scotland) Bill, proposed by Scottish Conservative Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell, seeks to cement legal certainty that an apology issued by public bodies such as the NHS or local authorities cannot be then used against them in certain legal proceedings.
A thirteen-week consultation period running until the end of September has started with the likes of the General Medical Council (GMC), the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Scottish Law Society asked to contribute.
Mitchell envisages the bill, which will seek to clarify the position of apologies in Scots law, helping to encourage organisations to say sorry sooner, thereby serving as closure to families or individuals who have felt wronged while curtailing costly proceedings.
“Currently there is a fear that giving an apology will automatically lead to litigation,” she said. “However, the majority of people simply want an acknowledgement of the bad outcome and to make sure the same thing will not happen to anyone else.
“It is important to stress that the protection the proposed Bill would provide for an apology would not preclude the recipient of that apology from going on to pursue legal redress. In other words it will not be possible for those complained against to ‘hide behind’ the proposed Bill’s provisions.
“However, it is hoped that the Bill will promote a culture of apologising, where individuals and organisations are more open and transparent and more willing to give an apology earlier in the process.”