Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Solicitors to be banned from giving criminal clients lifts to Court & Police Stations after change to code of conduct for criminal work, 1 May 2012

UNLESS there are very very exceptional circumstances, such as your client is a senior Council member of the Law Society of Scotland charged with a criminal offence (Yippee – Ed), Scottish solicitors are now prohibited from giving lifts (transportation) to clients to or from courts or Police stations other than in exceptional circumstances, due to changes in the Law Society of Scotland’s code of conduct for criminal work.

Article 14 of the code, which shortly comes into force on 1 May 2012, "Private motor vehicle transport – requests from clients" states :

"(14) Where a solicitor, trainee solicitor or directly employed staff, is requested by a client to provide private motor vehicle transport to or from any case conference or court diet relating to their case, or one in which they are directly involved, or any police station or other place of detention where the solicitor, trainee solicitor or employed staff has been called upon to provide representation or advice, then only in exceptional circumstances should such transport be provided."

The guidance note accompanying the rule reads: "The Society recognises that there may be exceptional circumstances where a solicitor, trainee solicitor or support staff may be called upon to provide private motor vehicle transport. Where a client requests private motor vehicle transport, it is for the solicitor to consider if the circumstances are such as to be considered as exceptional.

Factors that should be considered should include, but are not limited to:

The age and vulnerability of the client.
The distance and locality of the venues.
The alternative transport available.
Financial means of the client
Nature and known characteristics of the client.
Personal safety of self and/or others.

"It will be the individual solicitor’s responsibility, if called upon to do so by the Society, to demonstrate and evidence that such exceptional circumstances had been made out and that it was reasonable in considering all of those, to provide private motor vehicle transport to the client. Under no circumstances should a solicitor offer to provide private motor vehicle transport or instruct a trainee solicitor or other person employed by the solicitor to provide or offer to provide private motor vehicle transport to a client. Where exceptional circumstances apply and private motor vehicle transport is to be provided, then it is the solicitor’s responsibility to ensure that they have the necessary insurance on their motor vehicles to allow the transportation of clients."

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