Legal Services is the Council's in-house legal service, its main functions include:
- Providing legal advice to the Council's Committees and Services, as well as to the Northern Joint Police Board, the Highlands and Islands Fire Board and the Highland and Western Isles Joint Valuation Board;
- Managing the Council's contracts and ensuring that the Council's interests are protected;
- Providing conveyancing services to the Council including the sale of council houses;
- Clerking of Education Appeal Committees and some Housing Appeal Committees;
- Administering applications for liquor licences through the Licensing Board;
- Providing a comprehensive litigation service for the Council.
| Byelaws | Byelaws - Greater Fort William Area and Kinlochleven |
| Commercial Leasing | Conveyancing | Employment - Legal Advice |
| Highland Licensing Board | Litigation | Traffic Orders |
The Council's solicitors provide a comprehensive service to all sections of the Council involved in taking property on lease, or in letting out property to others.
Commercial leasing comprises, for the most part, leasing of the Council's industrial estate properties, although there are many lets of small commercial premises and shops throughout the Council's area.
As well as dealing with the Council's leased property, the Council's solicitors act for the Council on purchases of property for new Council development, including new roads, and improvements to existing roads.
They also act for the Council on sales of properties surplus to Council requirements, and on sales of Council houses.
Apart from their involvement in transactions, they provide general legal advice to all Services in respect of property-related matters, and work closely with Property and Architectural Services in exploring the strategic issues in respect of property management.
Property law plays a large part in the advice given to the Council's economic development companies, which assist small businesses with loans as well as pursuing property development to achieve the Council's objectives, often on the basis of joint ventures with the private sector.
The Council's lawyers provide legal advice and representation to managers throughout all services, including specialist advice to Personnel Services.
Solicitors in the Area offices, and at Headquarters, advise in relation to employment law generally and provide representation for the Council at employment tribunals.
The Council's solicitors also advise the Payroll and Pensions Manager in relation to matters affecting the pensions scheme.
The Council's solicitors provide specialist advice to Services in Court-related matters, and represent the Council on a regular basis.
Litigation includes actions for debt, for recovery of rent arrears, for anti-social behaviour orders, and for eviction. Court actions also arise out of contractual disputes and complex matters involving social work and education law.
While most of the Court actions involving the Council are heard in the Sheriff Courts throughout the Council's area, disputes the subject of petitions for judicial review require to be heard in the Court of Session.
The Council's solicitors rely, for the most part, upon their own research and expertise. Occasionally, they obtain Opinions from Counsel, usually with a view to determining whether or not to litigate. The Council retain Edinburgh agents, who assist with Court of Session work.
Traffic management and parking requires to be regulated by various statutory orders, for the most part drafted and brought into effect by solicitors in the appropriate Area office, or at Headquarters.
Orders include those required for speed limits, stopping up former roads and footpaths which have been superseded by new roads, stopping-up occasioned by new development, orders regulating on-street and off-street parking and imposing parking charges, and the myriad of road traffic regulation orders required for the roads throughout the Council's area.
Proposals for such orders are published in local newspapers affording members of the public an opportunity to make representations.
Temporary traffic orders are also required for formal purposes such as road works, utilities and infrastructure improvements, as well as for informal events such as street fairs, parties and categories of special events.
Tel: 01463 702162
Fax: 01463 702182