Thursday, April 09, 2009

Law Society welcomes civil legal aid reform, strings attached as usual

The Law Society of Scotland has ‘welcomed’ the recent reforms of civil legal aid in Scotland put forward by the Scottish Government, although with the usual strings attached … (as in legal aid should only be paid to Law Society members ? –Ed)

Law Society Press Release :

Law Society welcomes civil legal aid reform

The Law Society of Scotland supports the Scottish Government’s plans to raise the civil Legal Aid threshold as announced on 7 April.

The Society, while supportive of any initiative which aims to improve/address the situation, believes that more needs to be done to ensure that the purpose of the reform – to increase access to justice – is achieved.

Ranald Lindsay, Convener of the Access to Justice Committee said:

“This announcement is certainly welcome, and tackles a problem which has long been a concern of the Society’s, namely the difficulties facing those whose incomes are just above Legal Aid eligibility levels for legal advice and representation.

“Although making more people eligible for Legal Aid is going to help improve access to justice, the difficulties with the Legal Aid system mean that finding a solicitor to do the work is likely to remain as problematic for clients.

“Civil legal aid cases are notoriously labour intensive and involve significant extra bureaucracy and administration while remaining one of the least remunerative areas of practice in Scotland. In these days of economic difficulties, many legal practices have already had to make some very hard decisions, leading to redundancies, and a candid appraisal of what services they can offer if they are simply to survive.

“Making more people eligible for Legal Aid will not provide a complete solution unless the government can also attract more solicitors into this area of work.”

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