The Law Society of Scotland has today welcomed the announcement by Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, that there is to be an independent review of the legal aid system in Scotland.
The review is to be chaired by Martyn Evans, CEO of Carnegie Trust. The review group will also include solicitors with strong experience of working in legal aid;
- Lindsey McPhie, solicitor advocate and immediate past president of the Glasgow Bar Association
- Jackie McRae, a SSSC registered social worker, solicitor accredited by the Law Society as a specialist in family law and a former member of the Law Society’s Council.
Commenting, Eilidh Wiseman, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Access to justice for all is crucial to our collective social security and underpins the rule of law. It is vital that anyone, regardless of their financial means, can access the legal advice they need and have equal protection under the law.
"Yet these principles have come under increasing strain over recent years because of a legal aid system which is, all too often, not delivering for those who depend on it. This is why we very much welcome the details of this independent review. It provides a real opportunity to help shape the future provision of legal aid and ensure its long term sustainability.
"I am particularly delighted that both Lindsey McPhie and Jackie McRae, two of our members with extensive experience of working at the coal face on legal aid cases, will bring their in-depth knowledge, experience and understanding of civil and criminal legal aid work to the review.
“We now look forward to engaging constructively as the review moves forward. As a first step, we will shortly publish a report on the financial health of legal aid firms in Scotland. Having seen some of the initial research findings, I know that parts of the report will make uncomfortable reading which only serves to highlight the urgent need for the review announced today."