The Scottish Parliament has powers to make laws in devolved areas. The UK Parliament has powers to make laws in reserved areas or where a legislative consent motion has been passed, devolved areas.
- The UK and Scottish Governments have legal powers only over the matters that are within their competencies. Ministers and civil servants in the Scottish and UK Governments must ensure that any decisions they make have a lawful basis.
- An Act of the Scottish Parliament or the purported exercise of powers by the Scottish ministers can be struck down by the court where they have an effect beyond that permitted by the Scotland Act 1998 (for example, it is on a reserved matter, it is incompatible with human rights or European law).
- As a general rule, decision-makers assume that current legislation is within the competence of the Scottish Parliament where there has been no previous challenge.