Interim Legal Aid Regulations for Sheriff Appeal Court
Following the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee’s consideration of interim regulations (Tuesday, 27 October) for legal aid funding for cases appearing before the new Sheriff Appeal Court, Christine McLintock, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
“We are pleased that the Scottish Government listened to the concerns we raised and have brought in transitional arrangements to allow the new Sheriff Appeal Court to get up and running. The interim regulations ensure that members of the public can continue to access legal support for summary appeal cases.
“We are also pleased that the interim regulations recognise the role of solicitor advocates, who will be able to provide the benefit of their experience and expertise in the new Sheriff Appeal Court as they did in the High Court.
“However, solicitors will have difficulty in conducting the appeals themselves because of low payment. The fee rates available for this work were fixed in 1992. In a little over a year, the fee rates will have been frozen for a quarter of a century. It is a matter of concern that rates of remuneration have not been kept under review by the government and have reduced in real terms.
“We are supportive of the court reforms overall and we want to reach a position whereby solicitors are able to undertake appeal work for clients directly - without the need to appoint an advocate or solicitor advocate. The Scottish Government is committed to reviewing arrangements within six months. We will participate fully in the review process to ensure that in the longer term the Sheriff Appeal Court can operate effectively and efficiently and that full consideration can be given to the rates for solicitors to enable them to undertake appeal work directly as was intended by the reforms.”
To read our full response, please see the website: Legal Aid Regulations
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