With a global 3% increase to legal aid fees taking effect from today, 26 April 2019, the Law Society of Scotland highlights that this fee increase must be part of a wider package of reform.
Ian Moir, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Criminal Legal Aid Committee, said, “Legal aid helped people secure access to justice in over 200,000 cases last year, defending people when prosecuted, when unfairly dismissed, when facing homelessness, family separation or a range of other challenging, life-changing issues. Legal aid is the mainstay of access to justice in Scotland, but the funding of this vital service is no longer fit for purpose.
“Today sees a global 3% increase to legal aid fees for providers. For most of the fees involved, it’s the first increase in a decade and for some, significantly longer. Over the last decade, we’ve seen around a 20% cut in real terms through inflation and around 20% less solicitors providing criminal legal aid.”
Mark Thorley, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Civil Legal Aid Committee, said, “It’s important that this increase is part of a package of wider reform to make legal aid sustainable and to ensure that people are provided access to justice. The fee review panel provides an opportunity to tackle the effect of inflation and bridge the funding gap for legal aid.
“We’ll also look forward to a public consultation on the recommendations of the independent review of legal aid, which will allow practitioners and the public to have a say around how to make sure that legal aid and access to justice can be best provided.”