Urgent investment is needed to secure long term future for legal aid in Scotland

Category: Respect for the views of the child

13th June 2017

The Law Society of Scotland has called for increased investment, less bureaucracy and better use of technology to ensure the long-term sustainability of legal aid.

The Law Society has set out a series of recommendations in its comprehensive submission to an independent review of legal aid in Scotland, saying that the current system is overly complex and bureaucratic, while decades of under-investment have led to a decline in access to justice for people in communities across Scotland.

The Law Society has set out a series of recommendations in its comprehensive submission to an independent review of legal aid in Scotland, saying that the current system is overly complex and bureaucratic, while decades of under-investment have led to a decline in access to justice for people in communities across Scotland.

Among its proposals are:

  • Increased funding and a rise in legal aid rates
  • An urgent review of funding for police station work
  • A restructure of criminal legal aid funding and a streamlined payment system
  • Simplification of civil legal aid and adoption of a single grant system
  • Simplification of children's legal aid to help applicants
  • Increased scope of legal aid work carried out by trainee solicitors
  • Research into the preventive benefits of legal aid

Law Society of Scotland president, Graham Matthews, said:

"We know that early resolution of legal problems can prevent much bigger issues further down the line, before they get more difficult and more expensive to resolve. Unfortunately, under the current system solicitors are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to take on legal aid clients, particularly in civil cases, and run a viable business - with those who do take on legal aid clients effectively unpaid for some of the work they carry out. The result is that it's becoming increasing difficult for people to access the legal support and advice that they need, especially in rural communities."

The society also believes that savings brought about by increased efficiency in the legal aid system and better use of technology, should be reinvested into the legal aid system to help ensure its long-term sustainability.

 

 

 

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