Legal aid news and updates

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.