Scottish Legal Aid commentary

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7 October 2004: new on this page: the Scottish Legal Aid Board's proposed scale rates of payment for counsel under the Civil Legal Aid scheme.

Proposed scale: pdf file

I am publishing this document here because it does not seem to be publicly available elsewhere although it has been out for consultation for some time, and samizdat copies are in circulation. It is suggested by the Board that it will be retrospective, to work under existing legal certificates and even work done in the past (which matters, because the average delay between doing work under this scheme and payment is now about three years). Its practical effect will be to make it uneconomic to accept new civil legal aid instructions. From the Scottish Executive's point of view, its great merit would be that judicial reviews of governmental action would practically cease, as one of the areas of work which becomes 'unpaid' is legal research and preparation. General themes of the scales: counsel to be paid substantially less for court representation than a trainee solicitor sitting in; no recognition of travel/subsistence costs; no recognition of unusual complexity; most rates assume zero preparation.

Discussion is continuing (January 2005) as to new scales of payment; these are understood to be confidential.

An update at Hogmanay 2003…

A week ago, the Scottish Legal Aid Board website was at last relaunched so as to provide public access without the need for a password (which was until then supplied only to Scottish solicitors). It now has fairly full material relative to the workings of the Scottish Legal Aid system.

This meets the criticism made on this site, and for some years, that material of general interest (even the list of firms providing legal aid!) was effectively kept secret from the public, which led me to make the publications below freely available. There was clearly a demand for this; in December 2003 alone, there were 153 downloads of the Civil Legal Aid Register, and downloads of the entire Scottish Legal Aid Handbook were averaging about ten a day before I posted its commentary chapters as separate pages in October.

SLAB having now pulled its finger out on this issue, I don't intend to update this section, but will leave the material already published where it is. The entire Handbook (pdf file) is downloadable here and from SLAB at this page; their edition may be more up to date. It includes both commentary and statutory provisions. In view of its size (it is 2.1 Mb) many readers will find it hard to download from either site; I have accordingly posted the commentary section as pages on this site. Some further materials, mostly (but not all) published now on the SLAB website, are also available below.

The Scottish Legal Aid Handbook: commentary section


Advice and Assistance

Chapter 1; Advice and Assistance.

Chapters 2, 3, and 4; Assistance by Way of Representation.

Civil Legal Aid:

Chapter 5; Availability of legal aid and application procedures.

Chapter 6; Guidelines for submission of applications.

Chapter 7; Modified application procedures.

Chapter 8; Special urgency provisions.

Chapter 9; Conduct of proceedings and Board approval.

Chapter 10; Changes of circumstances and withdrawal of legal aid.

Chapter 11; Expenses.

Chapter 12; Property recovered or preserved.

Chapter 13; Remuneration and accounting.

Chapter 14; Legal aid for children.

Criminal Legal Aid and contempt of court:

Chapters 15 to 24

Further materials

Civil Legal Aid (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2003 , which put (with effect from 9 November 2003) a duty on solicitors and counsel to inform on their clients to SLAB

Register of firms providing civil legal aid (pdf) as of 30 October 2003

Civil Legal Aid; merits guidelines (pdf) issued 29 October 2003

Decision in Connelly v GA Group and another (relationship of legal aid certificate to actual grant), 8 October 2003

Civil Legal Aid Reform; Frequently Asked Questions issued 9 October 2003

Provisional Register of firms providing civil legal aid (pdf) (now out of date)

Civil Accounts Assessment Manual (pdf) issued 19 September 2003

English Legal Aid explanation for shift of asylum/immigration cases to Scottish Legal Aid

Mailshot of 5 September 2003 (pdf); applications and reporting with guidance notes (pdf)

Mailshot of 29 August 2003 (pdf); Changes in civil legal aid from 1 October 2003 (the new fees regulations are here)

Mailshot of 15 August 2003 (pdf); Civil legal aid: (i) cases involving a wider public interest and (ii) immigration and asylum cases

Mailshot of 17 July 2003 (pdf); (i) changes in financial eligibility and (ii) counsel in childrens cases

Recorder Issue 37 (pdf); Changes in civil legal aid from 1 October 2003

Recorder Issue 36 (pdf); Personal injury actions in Court of Session

Service standards for civil legal aid applicants

Service standards for civil legal aid opponents

Service standards for advocates (pdf)

Advice and assistance guidelines (pdf)

Calculation of financial eligibility (pdf)

Notes on ABWOR (pdf)

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