Employment contracts in Scotland


The laws of England and Wales differ from Scottish law in many respects. For example, in Scotland a jury consists of 15 members rather than the 12 required in England, and equity, which is one of the founding concepts of English law, is not recognised in Scotland. One of the most significant differences however, comes from contract law.

According to a long standing principle of English law, a contract must consist of an offer, an acceptance and consideration. Consideration can be defined as what the accepting party offers in return for the good or service offered. There will be no legally binding contract if there is no consideration. The most common situation when this rule comes up is in relation to employment contracts. One case illustrates this point, when sailors decided to abandon ship after the sailing became too difficult. The captain offered them extra pay if they completed their journey. Once they arrived back in England, the court found that there was no debt owed to the sailors, as there was no consideration because the sailors were already contractually obliged to complete the journey under their existing employment contract. Scotland however, might have recognised such an arrangement as a legally binding employment contract. Scotland does not require consideration for a contract and therefore a gratuitous agreement may be legally binding, even as an employment contract. Scotland is not the only country that has such laws, since many European countries’ legal systems which are based on civil law (rather than common law) also operate in a similar manner.

If you live in Scotland, or your employment contract is governed by Scottish law, you are advised to seek legal advice from a Scotland based solicitor. As the rules are different between England and Scotland, employment contract advice should be tailored to the relevant jurisdiction.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on an employment contract, Caven can put you in touch with a local employment solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local employment solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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