Apr 16 2008

Direct Access to advocates in Scotland

In October 2006, the Faculty of Advocates adopted new rules as to who, other than Scottish solicitors, could instruct counsel. Since then, several bodies have been added to the list (there is an up-to-date list here). Standard terms of instruction were published in early 2007. There is a Direct Access Guidance Committee which keeps direct access under review. I am its convener; the other members are Alan Dewar QC, Nick Ellis QC, Steve Laing, Shahid Latif, Jan McCall, Frances McMenamin QC, Robert Milligan, Philip Simpson, Andrew Smith QC and Ailsa Wilson QC.

Anyone who doesn’t already have direct access rights as being a member of one of the classes in that list is very welcome to apply to be added. This is done by writing to me as Committee convener, in the first place. The Committee adds bodies, or individuals, on an ad hoc basis, subject to ratification by either the Dean or Faculty Council.

Direct Access does not, with some very minor exceptions, entitle anyone other than a Scottish solicitor to instruct counsel in a litigation in a Scottish court (as opposed to tribunal). This is not a Faculty rule; it is because there are statutory restrictions on anyone other than a Scottish solicitor acting as agent for a litigant in a Scottish court.

The Committee is keen to hear from anyone with an interest in how the scheme could or should be altered or expanded. For example, should members of the public generally have direct access rights, as the Scottish Consumer Council has suggested? Are there any difficulties with the standard terms?

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