Legal Aid and Access to Justice
The Law Society's work in these areas is lead by the criminal
and civil legal aid teams and by the Access to Justice
committee, each being panels of experts in the field
and responsible to the Council of
the Law Society.
To find out more about developments in criminal and
civil legal aid and access to justice, see the links on the
Draft Code of Practice for Children's Legal
As a part of the changes being implemented through the
Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, the Scottish Legal Aid
Board has drafted a code of practice for those undertaking
children's legal assistance work.
The draft Code is now at the stage of submission to the Scottish
Government for approval. Although we note the considerable progress
that has been made, the Society continues to have some concerns
over the current drafting of the Code. Further details are
available on the Children's Legal Aid section of
To find out more about the Society's work on children's legal
aid, please contact Marina Sinclair-Chin on 0131
Shaping Scotland's Court Services
A response to the Scottish Court Service consultation,
Shaping Scotland's Court Services, is available on our Access to Justice page.
We are concerned about the impact of these proposals on access
to justice in Scotland, particularly in rural areas. There are a
number of courts proposed for closure - including Alloa, Arbroath,
Cupar, Dornoch, Duns, Dingwall, Haddington, Kircudbright, Peebles,
Rothesay and Stonehaven. A number of these are busy civil and
criminal courts and a number of the savings anticipated are small:
closing Rothesay to save £6,000, or Peebles to save £17,000 per
The introduction of summary sheriffs, the consolidation of
sheriff and jury work in 16 court centres and the reduction in the
High Court circuit will see court users across Scotland face
increased travel distance, time and cost. Some of the distances
involved will make participation in the justice system impractical,
from Eyemouth to Edinburgh or Wick to Inverness, for instance.
Courts in Scotland are an essential component to the
administration of justice and the rule of law. It is vital that if
any courts are considered for closure, there is far greater
consultation and engagement with the court users that will be
affected by the change, local authorities, community groups and the
public at large.
A copy of the Society's draft proposal on experts is available
to download from this page. We hope that this proposal would both
create a simplified procedure for finding and instructing an
expert, and result in significant savings to the legal aid fund.
This proposal is being discussed with SLAB, and we would welcome
your thoughts and comments so that we can take these forward in our
To find out more about the Society's work
on legal aid and access to justice, please contact Andrew Alexander
on 0131 226 8886 or follow ScotLegalAid on Twitter.