It is not often that Law Society of Scotland legal aid spokespeople have some positive news for the profession, but yesterday's announcement on the police station duty scheme was a notable exception.
The Government concession over the "subsumption" issue relating to the police station duty scheme (the rolling up of the police station advice fee into the fixed payment for subsequent summary criminal proceedings), coupled with the promise of further discussions on whether to restore direct contact by the police with the accused's solicitor of choice (bypassing the SLAB gatekeeper system), was surely a direct consequence of the profession's near-unanimous stand against the current scheme.
Something didn't add up between SLAB's bullish releases about how the month-old scheme was operating, and what by all accounts was the 90%+, and growing, proportion of the profession choosing to shun it. Now perhaps Mr MacAskill's further talks will reveal how strongly the police do support the scheme, as claimed by SLAB, and whether it really marks an improvement on what went before.
Would it be too much to hope as well, via the Carloway review if not sooner, that at some point someone in Government will learn not to blame the whole saga on the Cadder case, which the profession managed to take in its stride before very long, the "emergency" legislation in particular being little more than a panic measure?
At any rate this week's news certainly shows the value of the profession finding a point of principle on which to take a stand, and managing to agree a united front in defence of it. The internal divisions that have marked previous legal aid controversies, right up to this spring and the grief over fixed payments in the stipendiary courts and otherwise, were conspicuous by their absence this time.
Job well done, by the Society team and all those who supported it.