Criminal defence solicitors across Scotland have come out in support of the Scottish Solicitors Bar Association, which launched yesterday with a mission to represent and promote their interests.
Calls for such a body have grown in recent weeks as defence solicitors reliant on legal aid income have been left disappointed by the failure of the Scottish Government's support package to deliver the promised vital funding, with the Scottish Legal Aid Board finding applicants entitled to meagre if any payments from the £9m allocated.
The new association, whose Twitter account opened yesterday evening and at time of writing has more than 350 followers, said it been in planning over the last couple of months and had already secured a place at regular meetings with civil servants at the Justice Department.
Its President is Julia McPartlin, former President of the Edinburgh Bar Association, and its Vice President Stuart Murray, President of the Aberdeen Bar Association. Other committee members include David Fisken and Derrick Williamson (Glasgow & Strathkelvin), Gordon Addison and Scott McKenzie (Tayside, Central & Fife), Darryl Lovie (Lothian & Borders), Robert Cruickshank (Grampian, Highland & Islands), Simon Brown and Philip Lafferty (North Strathclyde), and Tony Currie and Mark O'Hanlon (South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway).
Open to all solicitors and trainees in private criminal defence practice, membership is to be free for the first year. Applicants should email their name and sheriffdom of practice to firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcing its launch, the association tweeted: "There are many challenges ahead of us all. The resilience fund and the traineeship fund, the ever mounting backlog of cases, Covid safety at court and the Legal Aid Payment Review Panel are just a few of the issues we will be tackling."
The Glasgow Bar Association tweeted that it had been heavily involved in setting up the SSBA and encouraged solicitors to join.