Legal aid news and updates

Legal aid news and updates October 2016

The High Court of Justiciary has made an Act of Adjournal under section 305 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. The instrument sets out steps which solicitors are to take to confirm to the court that an accused person has been informed of his or her options regarding representation in the High Court.

Legal aid news and updates November 2015

Sheriff Court solemn practice
The new Sheriff Appeal Court
Our continued call for the inflationary uprating of fees
Implementation of the Criminal Justice Bill in relation to the Police Station Duty Scheme
Solemn legal aid – interim payments
Our discussions with SLAB about appointed solicitor ABWOR

 

Sheriff Court solemn practice

The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill introduces a requirement on prosecution and defence to communicate and to work together to lodge a joint written record of preparation in advance of the first diet. It is clear that the rationale for the introduction of this engagement is to encourage early resolution.  Our position is that, in order to ensure that the policy objective is fully achieved criminal legal assistance funding should support the work being carried out.

We have received queries from members about Practice Note No. 3 of 2015, which takes effect from 1 December 2015.  The Lord Justice Clerk has confirmed that the practice note does not create additional requirements and is simply an outline of existing good practice. 

However, the Practice Note states:

“It will be regarded as unacceptable if the first time that there is meaningful communication between the Crown and the defence is at the First Diet. The court will expect to be advised at that diet of when, how and by what means communication has taken place since (i) any appearance on petition; and (ii) service of the indictment.”

And

“the court will, as a matter of good practice, expect both the Crown and the defence to be in a position to address the court fully on the matters set out in the Joint Written Record of State of Preparation appended hereto. In particular, the court will expect full details from both the Crown and defence of the steps taken to comply with the duty, under section 257 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 ( “the 1995 Act”), to agree facts which are unlikely to be disputed. In the event that such agreement has been reached, a joint minute must be lodged as soon as possible.”

There is no doubt that the defence will be required to carry out additional work earlier on in the process.  The Government has stated that changes brought about by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill this may result in amendments to legal aid and that it will engage at the appropriate time to assess whether that is required.  We believe that additional funding is required now, given the terms of the practice note. 

We intend to meet with faculties and practitioner group representatives to discuss how best to deal with this issue.

Sheriff Appeal Court

We acknowledge the Government’s comments about engaging with the Society during the transitional six month period and want to move to a position where solicitors are able to undertake appeal work for clients directly - without the need to appoint counsel. We will be reporting to the Justice Committee on the progress of discussions early in the new year.

Inflationary uprating of fees

We believe that legal assistance rates should increase, at least in line with inflation.  This is now a matter of urgency for certain areas of the legal aid system, particularly where rates have been fixed since 1992.  We have carried out work to calculate the cost of uprating the summary time and line and ABWOR time and line rates.  We will be putting these figures to the Government.

Implementation of Criminal Justice Bill in relation to the Police Station Duty Scheme

We understand the Government intends to lay regulations to remove the requirement for clients to make financial contributions when receiving police station advice.  We have argued for years that contributions are not practical for advice and assistance provided to suspects at a police station and we are pleased to see that progress is finally being made on this issue.  We anticipate that these changes will be implemented before the end of March 2016.

Solemn legal aid – interim payments

We have suggested to SLAB the introduction of a system which allows fees to be rendered at interim stages during a solemn case.

Appointed solicitor ABWOR

We have been in discussions with SLAB about Appointed Solicitor ABWOR.  Our position is that that where a solicitor sees a client in court custody and is then called for a trial on another matter, the solicitor should still be able to grant Appointed Solicitor ABWOR.  The bulk of the work required to resolve the case consists of taking instruction and negotiating the plea. 

SLAB has outlined its position that, at the point of taking instruction at the court custody stage, the solicitor has to be in a position to foresee that he or she will be available for the court appearance.  We want to notify you of SLAB’s approach which we believe will risk causing delay, particularly if solicitors have difficulties in granting ABWOR for clients in custody.


The team would welcome feedback from you in relation to any of the above issues.  If you have any queries or comments, or to find out more about the Society's work on criminal legal aid, you can get in touch by email or on 0131 476 8348.

Legal aid news and updates August 2015

Legal Aid Provision - Courts Reform

We are currently consulting with members on legal aid regulations which have been laid in the Scottish Parliament.  The regulations make changes to legal aid payment structures because of structural changes through the Courts Reform Act 2014, which are soon to be implemented. 

We have serious concerns on the impact of the regulations on the courts and on convicted persons  and we will be submitting a formal response to the Justice Committee towards the end of August. We would welcome any additional views from members or stakeholders before 12 August 2015. 

Please email any comments to legalaid@lawscot.org.uk

Legal aid news and updates June 2015

The Society’s Legal Aid Committee would like to update members on regulations which have been laid in the Scottish Parliament.

The regulations

The Legal Aid and Advice and Assistance (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 were laid yesterday (9 June 2015). There is a policy note attached to the regulations.  The regulations make changes to legal aid payment structures in order to accommodate changes made by the Courts Reform Act 2014.

The regulations:

a)      Make legal aid available in criminal appeals to the Sheriff Appeal Court and in appeals and references from that Court to the High Court.

b)      Prescribe fees payable to solicitors and counsel in relation to bail appeals to the Sheriff Appeal Court.

c)       Revise the table of fees applying to junior counsel or solicitor advocates in judicial review proceedings.

d)      Make provision in relation to fees payable in relation to proceedings in the all-Scotland sheriff court.

Appeals Against Conviction and Sentence in the Sheriff Appeal Court

Background

At the moment, where a person is granted leave to appeal against a conviction or sentence in the Sheriff Court, he or she will be afforded:

  • Counsel to conduct the hearing (paid at High Court rates) and
  • A supporting solicitor to assist in the preparation and to support Counsel at the hearing (paid at solicitor and behind-counsel rates)

The changes brought about by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act mean that, in Sheriff Court cases, there will no longer be a right of appeal directly to the High Court against conviction or sentence. Such appeals will be to the new Sheriff Appeal Court in the first instance.  The change means that, where sanction for counsel is not granted (which is likely to be in the majority of these cases), the appellant will be afforded:

  • A single solicitor to prepare for AND conduct the hearing in the Sheriff Appeal Court.

The Effect of the Regulations

For summary appeals against conviction and summary appeals against sentence in the Sheriff Appeal Court, solicitor fees will come only from the detailed fees in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Criminal Legal Aid (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 1989.  In other words, all work in connection with these appeals will be paid at the same rates as a JP or Sheriff Court trial where the solicitor opts out of the block fee.   There will be no block fee available for summary appeals against conviction or sentence in the Sheriff Appeal Court.

Bail Appeals in the Sheriff Appeal Court

For bail appeals, solicitors will receive the £50 prescribed at paragraph 13 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Criminal Legal Aid (Fixed Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 1999 with an additional £30 for representation at the diet in the Sheriff Appeal Court.

Judicial Review Proceedings

The regulations revise the table of fees applying to junior counsel in judicial review proceedings to take account of the new procedure introduced by section 89 of the Courts Reform 2014 Act. 

The All-Scotland Sheriff Court

The regulations make provision in relation to fees payable in relation to proceedings in the all-Scotland sheriff court which is to be established under section 41 of the 2014 Act.  The regulations also provide for fees payable for civil hearings where there is no other fee is otherwise prescribed.

Our position on the draft regulations

Inadequate Fee Levels for Summary Appeals Against Conviction or Sentence

We made comments on the draft regulations before they were laid in Parliament.  In relation to appeals against conviction and sentence in the Sheriff Appeal Court we explained that the detailed fees in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Criminal Legal Aid (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 are wholly inadequate given the needs of the client and the nature of the work involved. 

We commented that:

  • The detailed fees will not reflect the amount of work actually undertaken. The sum of £27.40 will not reflect the work involved for up to the first half hour of a hearing that involves a review of a judicial decision.
  • In determining fee levels, there does not appear to have been any consideration given to the fact that this work is a specialist area.
  • The client will have only one representative in the majority of Sheriff Appeal Court cases and it is important that he or she is properly funded. 
  • Additional training and guidance may need to be provided to solicitors undertaking this work.  The levels of remuneration do not reflect the additional levels of responsibility and work involved.
  • The low level of rates could discourage solicitors from carrying out appeals against conviction or sentence, creating access to justice issues.  We are concerned that people who might be wrongfully convicted or sentenced might have difficulties exercising their legitimate right of appeal.
  • The High Court rate that is currently paid to junior counsel for conducting appeals could be adopted for this work.  Such an approach would still make savings for the Government as there would be only one legal representative being funded.

Despite our representations, the Government did not offer to make any amendments to the draft regulations.

The Effect on Solicitor Advocates

At present, the definitions within the legal aid legislation restrict solicitor advocates from the definition of counsel unless they are acting in connection with their extended rights of audience in the High Court.  This means that, in Sheriff Court cases, it is not possible to instruct a solicitor advocate when sanction has been granted.  We have highlighted this anomaly to the Government previously and we did so again in our comments on the draft regulations. 

Rather than amending the regulations to ensure that sanction for counsel could also apply to solicitor advocates, the Government policy note to the regulations simply states: “Solicitor advocates may only charge counsel fees where they are using extended rights of audience, which they will not be doing in the Sheriff Appeal Court. The Scottish Government will consider this point in its discussion with both the Law Society and the Faculty on a range of issues affecting solicitor advocates and counsel.”

The effect of these changes is that, for summary appeals against conviction or sentence, Solicitor Advocates will go from being able to charge High Court (counsel) rates to being only able to charge time-based JP/Sheriff Court (solicitor) rates for doing more work (given that he or she will no longer have a solicitor acting in a supporting capacity).

Judicial Reviews - fees to junior counsel or solicitor advocates

In relation to judicial reviews, we commented that the draft regulations simply transfer the existing fees paid for a motion for first orders to the “oral hearing at permission stage or procedural hearing”, and for first or second hearings to “substantive hearings”.   We outlined that this fails to reflect the fact that these new procedures are fully anticipated to be significantly more involved and more complex than those which existed previously.  The low fee levels, in particular when viewed in the context of other changes to judicial review (such as time limits) and the increasing complexity and difficulty of judicial reviews generally, are likely to lead to access to justice concerns. 

We outlined to the Government that judicial review is a crucial procedure in preserving the rule of law and protecting human rights, and it is important that legal aid remains effective in this area.

Outcome

We are disappointed and frustrated that the Scottish Government was unwilling to make any amendments to the draft regulations.

We sympathise with colleagues who carry out this important work and appreciate the difficulties that will be brought about by these regulations.  We have serious concerns about the impact on the courts and on convicted persons, not least because of the potential gap in provision in the Sheriff Appeal Court.  We will be submitting a formal response to the Justice Committee and would welcome any additional comments from you.  Please email any views to legalaid@lawscot.org.uk.

 

Ian Moir
Legal Aid Convener
Criminal Legal Aid Negotiating Team

Legal aid news and updates May 2015

In November 2014, the Law Society’s Legal Aid Committee published a discussion paper on legal assistance in Scotland. The consultation period closed on 30 January 2015.

We received over 50 responses from individuals and organisations. We have published these responses along with our consultation report. After analysing the consultation responses, in May 2015 we published our 18 key proposals in our recommendations paper ‘Legal Assistance in Scotland - Fit for the 21st Century’.

Read the consultation responses

Read the consultation report

Read the 18 key proposals in our recommendations paper ‘Legal Assistance in Scotland - Fit for the 21st Century

Our proposals include:

  • broad recommendations on the Scottish Government’s funding for legal assistance
  • introducing a block fee for police station advice
  • introducing a single grant of civil legal aid (abolishing Advice and Assistance/Assistance by Way of Representation/Legal Aid Distinctions)

If you have any queries or comments, or to find out more about the Society's work on legal aid please contact us on legalaid@lawscot.org.uk.  You can also join the conversation on twitter @lawscot #legalaid and via our LinkedIn Legal Aid group.

Legal aid news and updates November 2014

Legal assistance in Scotland discussion paper

We would like to share with you a discussion paper on reform of the legal assistance system in Scotland. 

We do not believe that the current system is fit for purpose and at a time when there are ongoing reforms to modernise the wider court and justice system, we need to rethink the system as a whole and look at where efficiencies can be made and how savings can be reinvested into legal aid.

The suggestions in this paper are unlikely to draw universal support. Indeed there are divergent views within our committees on some of the ideas. The intention of the paper is to start a conversation and encourage new ways of thinking about legal aid reform.

We are relying on members to help inform our views on these important issues. We will also be consulting with a wide range of justice system stakeholders as well as the Scottish Government and SLAB. Input from as many practitioners as possible will be essential in reaching a final set of recommendations.

We would be very grateful for your views. Specifically, do you have any comments on the suggestions that:

• Legal assistance is overly complex, inefficient, outdated and under-funded?

• There could be a single system for criminal legal assistance and a single system for civil legal assistance (rather than ABWOR, A&A and legal aid)?

• There is a need for a block fee for police station advice work?

• Fees could be front-loaded to encourage early resolution of criminal cases?

• The upper eligibility limit for civil cases could be reduced so that expenditure can be targeted in areas that need it most?

• The areas currently within the scope of civil legal assistance could be reviewed so that expenditure can be targeted on areas that need it most?

• There should be promotion of alternative funding options and Government loans for legal services?

Please email your thoughts to legalaid@lawscot.org.uk. We welcome responses up to 5pm on 30 January 2015.

 

 

Legal aid news and updates August 2014

Scottish Government programme of legal aid reforms

In 2011 the Scottish Government published a paper called “A Sustainable Future for Legal Aid”.  It outlined a programme of work reforms that the Government would be taking forward, some of which have been progressed while others have been delayed or revised.

One of the proposals was to review fees paid to solicitors sitting behind counsel. And last year, the Government sent us proposals to reduce the rates for this work.  We submitted a response opposing these plans, which we believe would have made the work uneconomic for solicitors and caused serious access to justice issues.  We also met with the Faculty of Advocates to ensure a collaborative approach in terms of negotiations.

We are now pleased to report that the Scottish Government has confirmed that this reform will no longer be taken forward.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, in a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that the Government will review progress on the “Sustainable Future” document and publish a refreshed paper in October, which will include further detail on contracting and contributions.

At this stage, we have no further details on how the Government will take matters forward to the end of the term of the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

Cases under s.11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995

We’re also expecting to receive further information in October on the Scottish Government’s plans to address fees for work under Chapter 33AA OCR case management procedures for cases under s 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. On all of these issues we will keep you informed as and when we have more information.

Legal aid news and updates December 2013

Advisory Code of Conduct for Criminal Work changes

Criminal legal aid practitioners should note two important changes to the advisory Code of Conduct for Criminal Work.

The changes were approved by the Society's Professional Practice Committee in response to the Scottish Government's decision to have solicitors collect legal aid contributions in summary criminal cases.

Despite maintaining that solicitors should not have to collect contributions, the Society made a commitment to meet the needs of our members by helping to promote a stable, properly regulated marketplace.

In meeting this commitment, a Society working group identified two key issues:

  • the time of accepting instructions and acceptable policy to seek instructions
  • the situation immediately prior to any trial date and how a solicitor might be expected to react to an unpaid, properly assessed contribution

On the first issue, a change has been made to the guidance to article 1. After "…that inducements have been offered in exchange for instructions…" the following sentence has been added: "It will be considered an inducement for a solicitor or firm of solicitors to advertise and/or have a general policy of non-collection of properly assessed contributions."

On the second issue, it was recognised that there were numerous situations that might lead to an assessed contribution either having been paid partially or not at all. It was considered impractical to attempt to list and grade all eventualities. However, it was agreed to make the following addition to the guidance to article 9: "If a plea of not guilty is tendered and the solicitor has not been paid the contribution in full by the intermediate diet, he/she should withdraw from acting, or if a decision is taken to continue to represent the client, should do so on a pro bono basis and not access any publicly funded assistance."

The code is advisory and if a complaint is made alleging a breach of the code of conduct, the solicitor will be given the opportunity to explain his or her actions.

The changes were made following consideration by the Society working group examining this issue and after senior counsel's opinion was taken. The possibility of drawing up new rules was considered but, at least prior to the new system being in operation and monitored for some time, it was recognised that the statutory requirements to justify rules could not be met.

These new provisions will become effective at the same time as the introduction of universal contributions, which is now expected in February 2014.

Any comments are welcome and will be considered. Please email Oliver Adair, working group chair, oliveradair@lawscot.org.uk

Legal aid news and updates November 2013

Dean's ruling on appearance of counsel without an agent

The Dean of Faculty has issued a ruling confirming that in civil proceedings before any court or tribunal there is nothing to prevent a properly instructed counsel appearing without an instructing agent.

The ruling has prompted guidance to be issued by SLAB

SLAB's guidance suggests that it is for the solicitor to decide whether or not to exercise the option now available in terms of the Dean's ruling, where counsel will likewise be content to dispense with the attendance of the instructing agent at the hearing. The Society understands that the faculty is supportive of this view.

The Dean's ruling will have an impact on legal aid solicitors who will need to be able to confirm why attendance with counsel was required. It will also have an impact on solicitors acting in privately funded cases who may have to justify costs to their client.

The Society welcomes views from all civil practitioners on this ruling and on the SLAB guidance in advance of the Society's discussions with SLAB and the faculty.

Please send your views to Marina Sinclair-Chin.

Further detail can be found on SLAB's website.

Legal aid news and updates October 2013

Revised timetable for reforms

We have received a further revised workplan from the Scottish Government with updated estimates for the progression of the legal aid reforms set out in the white paper, A Sustainable Future for Legal Aid. This can be downloaded from the related files section of this page.

The Government has stated that it will aim to share with the Law Society a proposal paper on each of these reforms for further discussion in the first instance.  The Government emphasised that the work plan is provisional and that we should expect it to be revised regularly as work progresses.

We will keep members updated on changes to the timescales and consult with members on the draft proposals when they are received.

Legal aid news and updates September 2013

Taxation decisions

The Society will soon be publishing on its website a collection of taxation decisions in relation to legal aid cases across Scotland. It is hoped that this will provide solicitors with an easy method of sharing information and gaining a better picture of trends in taxations throughout the country.

If you have any decisions which you think would be useful for other practitioners, please send a copy of the decision together with any other relevant information to Marina Sinclair-Chin.

Dean's ruling on appearance of counsel without an agent

The Dean of Faculty has issued a ruling confirming that in civil proceedings before any court or tribunal there is nothing to prevent a properly instructed counsel appearing without an instructing agent.

The ruling has prompted guidance to be issued by SLAB

SLAB's guidance suggests that it is for the solicitor to decide whether or not  to exercise the option now available in terms of the Dean's ruling, where counsel will likewise be content to dispense with the attendance of the instructing agent at the hearing. The Society understands that the faculty is supportive of this view.

The Dean's ruling will have an impact on legal aid solicitors who will need to be able to confirm why attendance with counsel was required. It will also have an impact on solicitors acting in privately funded cases who may have to justify costs to their client.

The Society welcomes views from all civil practitioners on this ruling and on the SLAB guidance in advance of the Society's discussions with SLAB and the faculty.

Please send your views by 31 October to Marina Sinclair-Chin.

Further detail can be found on SLAB's website.

Legal aid news and updates July 2013

Informal legal aid meetings across Scotland

A summer series of Society lunchtime drop-in visits to local legal aid solicitors' common rooms has begun. Oliver Adair, who joined the Society's legal aid team in December 2012, will visit ten sheriff court common rooms, to chat to solicitors about their priorities and concerns.

Whilst the Society has made huge progress in using technology to communicate with the profession, recent experience during the criminal legal aid review, has reinforced the value of face to face engagement. Oliver well recollects while he was in private practice solicitors sitting in their common rooms over lunch discussing their concerns. Heaven forbid they may even have been critical of the Society! This initiative is an attempt to reach out to them in their natural environment.

If you would like more details of the programme or indeed to ask if your common room could be included, please contact Oliver at oliveradair@lawscot.org.uk.

He is looking forward to speaking with you. There is no need for an appointment - if you'd like to talk anything over with him, please just turn up at lunchtime 12.45 - 2.15pm.

  • Hamilton 19 June
  • Livingston 26 June
  • Aberdeen 3 July
  • Dundee 10 July
  • Inverness 17 July
  • Perth 24 July
  • Jedburgh 31 July
  • Stranraer 7 August
  • Dumfries 14 August
  • Paisley 21 August

Legal aid news and updates March 2013

Children's legal assistance conference

The Law Society is holding a one-day event on 25 April 2013 to cover the competencies required for registration to provide children's legal assistance. For further information and to register, visit the events section of this website.

Registration for children's legal assistance

Registration for children's legal assistance has now opened. Firms and solicitors wishing to be registered to provide children's legal assistance in time for the implementation of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 will need to submit their applications to SLAB by 17 May 2013. All firms and solicitors wishing to carry out this work will need to register. This applies even if the individual or firm are already registered for the purposes of criminal legal assistance.

Registration forms, together with the code of practice and duty scheme eligibility criteria, are available on the SLAB website.

The Civil Legal Aid Team recommends that firms and solicitors considering registration do scrutinise the provisions of the code of practice, which includes a number of requirements that firms may find onerous.

Further information can be found on the children's legal aid section of this website.

Legal aid news and updates February 2013

Cost limitations in civil legal aid cases

The Civil Legal Aid Team has received notice of a cost limitation system due to be implemented by SLAB on 21 March 2013. Members of the profession will shortly be receiving a mailshot from SLAB covering the new system.

The team has discussed the principle of such a system with SLAB, and do not object in principle to introducing cost limits for civil cases. However, due to short notice of the detail of the system, the team has not had the opportunity to engage with SLAB on key issues of concern. The team has raised these issues with SLAB, and would advise the profession to be aware of these concerns. Full details can be found in the comments paper available to download here.

The team will continue to discuss these concerns with SLAB going forward. Comments are welcome, and can be sent to the team by emailing legalaid@lawscot.org.uk.

Criminal legal aid review update

Led by Law Society of Scotland President, Austin Lafferty, and Vice President, Bruce Beveridge, we are carrying out a review in to the way we carry out our work on criminal legal aid.

The review will look not only at structures but also at support systems, consultation processes and other areas surrounding the decision-making process.

We have emailed members working in criminal legal aid asking for them to engage with us constructively in this review. We have also emailed faculty representatives offering to meet with their faculty members to discuss the review.  Since then we have met with a number of faculties to discuss issues and to share ideas. If your faculty has not met with us and you wish to discuss these matters, please contact your faculty representative to arrange for such a discussion.  Alternatively, contact us direct on legalaid@lawscot.org.uk.

You can read Austin Lafferty's discussion paper here. The paper suggests one option for how the structure and process for the Society's criminal legal aid work could look. We would like members to give us their views. Perhaps you have a different idea of how things could work? Please discuss them with your colleagues and let us know what you think. Please email your thoughts to us at legalaid@lawscot.org.uk.

Although there is no fixed date for this review to close - the sooner we receive your views the better.

Notice of prisoner move

Please be aware that due to extensive refurbishment of HMP Cornton Vale in Stirling commencing February 2013, any clients that solicitors may have within the prison may be transferred to HMP Polmont in Falkirk.

Identified prisoners will be transferred to Polmont for a period of between six to nine months as of the 12 February 2013 and all agents are advised to seek clarification from their clients if they are on the list to be transferred. This would be advisable rather than turning up at HMP Cornton Vale and the client is actually in HMP Polmont.

Late payment interest and legal aid

The Legal Aid Committee has been considering the position of solicitors' accounts with the Scottish Legal Aid Board in relation to statutory late payment interest.

The committee has reviewed the terms of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Scotland) Act 1998, together with the terms of Directive 2011/7/EU on Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions, and has received counsel's opinion on the matter. The committee is of the opinion that the 1998 Act does not currently comply with the terms of the 2011 Directive, in that it does not cover the relationship between SLAB and solicitors carrying out legal aid work. The committee believes that under the Directive, solicitors should be able to claim late payment interest, and have made that point in a consultation response on the implementation of the 2011 Directive.

The consultation response and counsel's opinion are avaiable here.

Payment of expert witnesses for legal aid

The civil and criminal legal aid teams have been working with the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) to reform the way expert witnesses are paid.

A copy of the Society's proposal on experts is available here. We hope that this proposal would both create a simplified procedure for finding and instructing an expert, and result in significant savings to the legal aid fund. This proposal is being discussed with SLAB, and we would welcome your thoughts and comments so that we can take these forward in our discussions.

In addition, SLAB intends to bring the travel arrangements for experts in line with that for solicitors by paying half the current hourly rate for travelling time. We expect that this will come into effect by 1 March 2013.