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Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015

Section 13: Consequential amendments

53.This section makes a number of consequential amendments to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”).

54.Subsection (2) amends section 14 of the 2002 Act. It restricts application of that section, which provides the Ombudsman with powers in relation to unlawful obstruction of the Ombudsman’s functions, to the functions of the Ombudsman under sections 2 to 13 of the 2002 Act.

55.Subsection (3) inserts a new section in the 2002 Act. This new section 16H provides that the Ombudsman has further powers in relation to review of decisions by local authorities under the Act.

56.Subsection (4) amends section 18(1) of the 2002 Act which provides for certain statements to be absolutely privileged for the purposes of the law of defamation. It provides that any statement made by the Ombudsman in a report under the Act, any statement made by the Ombudsman in communicating with any person for the purposes of a welfare fund review, and any statement made by any person in communicating with the Ombudsman for the purposes of such a review are absolutely privileged for the purposes of the law of defamation.

57.Subsection (5) amends section 19 of the 2002 Act which concerns confidentiality of information. It inserts a number of new subsections in respect of a welfare fund review carried out by the Ombudsman. It provides that information obtained by the Ombudsman or any of the Ombudsman’s advisors in connection with a welfare fund review must not be disclosed except for purposes listed in section 19. It also provides that it is not competent to call upon the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman’s advisors to give evidence in any proceedings, other than those listed in section 19 of the 2002 Act, in respect of information they have gained in connection with a welfare fund review.

58.Subsection (6) amends section 20 of the 2002 Act so that the disclosure requirements of the 2002 Act also apply to information obtained by, or supplied to, the Ombudsman or any of the Ombudsman’s advisers under the Act.

59.Subsection (7) amends section 23 of the 2002 Act by adding certain new definitions.

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