November 2016

The Society’s committees have been working on a number of Scottish Parliament and UK Parliament Bills and consultations including Scottish Court Fees, the human rights implications of Brexit and brain injury and offending.

Key areas are highlighted below. For more information see the law reform section of the website

Brain injury and offending

The Health and Medical Law Committee and the Criminal Law Committee have responded to a request from the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee for views relating to brain injury and offending and the recent report published by the National Prisoner Healthcare Network.

In particular, the Justice Committee is looking to ascertain whether defence solicitors consider that they have the information and training they need to recognise when brain injury may be present in clients they represent. The Committee has also asked whether the possibility of a client having a brain injury is a factor commonly taken into account by defence solicitors during early contact with their client.

We have stated that defence solicitors are not required to, or generally receive, the training on how to recognise or screen any medical conditions. It has never been the role of a defence solicitor to ask clients screening questions for undetected medical conditions, including potential brain injury. However, we have also stated that a competent defence solicitor will routinely enquire whether the client has any existing medical condition that might be relevant. It is common for persons appearing from custody or presenting a new complaint to reveal that they are in receipt of a form of state benefit awarded only to those with a disability, and this inevitably puts the solicitor on notice that there needs to be further enquiry.

You can read our response to the Justice Committee here