Members' benefit of the month
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Our work on access to justice issues is led by our Access to Justice committee, convened by Stuart Naismith. The committee has both solicitor and non-solicitor members, to reflect the broad range of views on the operation of the justice system.
The committee has a set of principles that guide its work. Our justice system should:
The committee is always interested to hear about challenges or opportunities around access to justice and can be contacted by email. More details on the committee's work can be found on this page and recent committee minutes and other documents can be downloaded.
Recent world events have seen changes in the asylum landscape in Scotland and the UK. The movement of people seeking refuge due to war or instability has multiplied over the last few years and there has been a corresponding increase in asylum seekers arriving in Scotland.
This event will bring you up to speed with the latest thinking and will also equip you with valuable and specialised knowledge to support your practice.
The legal and technology sectors joined forces for Scotland’s first legal hackathon, Tech4justice in June 2016.
The Law Society of Scotland and Legal Hackers Scotland organised the 48-hour event to generate innovative ideas and technical solutions to address access to justice issues.
A total of eight teams made up of tech and legal professionals took part in the 48 hour event during the weekend 17-19 June. Ideas ranged from creating a mobile app to provide on the spot legal information for young people to voice-recognition systems helping those with small claims cases.
We recently conducted a survey to understand more about pro bono, its prevalence, the types of work carried out and the motivations solicitors have for conducting it. A copy of the survey is available to downloaded.
We heard from respondents that a large number of solicitors across Scotland cary out pro bono, that the majority of this is carried out as an individual rather than through schemes organised by firms, and that the primary motivations are to improve access to justice, address unmet legal need and give something back to society. Some solicitors were keen to carry out pro bono but were detered by requirements around insurance or around CPD, and we will be producing information to assist around this issues soon. We also asked about whether pro bono should become compulsory, and the overwhelming majority of respondents disagreed with such a policy, even with an exemption for those otherwise promoting access to justice.
Employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 and since their introduction, the number of employment tribunal claims has reduced by over three quarters.
Concerned about the access to justice impact of these fees, we asked our members for views. These are included in a report which is available for download from this page. A range of views were expressed, though concern about the overall impact was near universal; some thought that a wider review on the wider role of employment tribunals was required. We wrote to Chris Grayling MP, the Lord Chancellor, and Kenny MacAskill MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to ask for an urgent review of these fees. A review is now underway by the Ministry of Justice and we will be making representations around the impact of these fees.
If you would like to know more about this issue, please feel free to contact us direct by email.
To find out more about the Society's work on access to justice issues, please contact Andrew Alexander on 0131 226 8886.