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Re-formed Access to Justice Committee members confirmed

13 September 2011

Membership of the Law Society of Scotland's re-formed Access to Justice Committee, under convener Stuart Naismith, was confirmed today by the Society.

The committee has not met since February this year, when a majority of its members, including the then convener Mike Dailly, resigned over a row about a discussion paper the committee had produced about the future of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and allegations that the Board had attempted to have the committee silenced.

The Board is actually represented on the new committee, through Ian Dickson, director of its Civil Legal Assistance Office network.

Four members of the former committee are among the 10 solicitors and non-solicitors now appointed. They are Phyllis Craig MBE, chair of Clydeside Action on Asbestos; Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons, solicitors, and a specialist in personal injury and health and safety law; Dave Moxham, Deputy Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress; and Robert Sutherland, an advocate with Terra Firma Chambers, Director and Convener of Scottish Legal Action Group and Director of Scottish Legal News.

Convener Mr Naismith Stuart Naismith is a solicitor in private practice in Johnston, and Law Society Council member for Paisley Sheriff Court District. The other new members are Stuart Kelly, a trainee at Harper Macleod, who was involved in the Strathclyde University student law clinic; John MacRitchie, a criminal practitioner based in Peterhead; David Rodger, who works for the Scottish Government Health Directorate; and Sheeka Saha, an in-house solicitor for Western Isles Council and a Law Society Council member.

Realities

Mr Naismith said: “The committee’s members have been drawn from a varying backgrounds, and each of them has knowledge of the practical realities of delivering services to the people of Scotland in those areas with which the committee is likely to be concerned."

He added: "There are significant challenges presented by the ongoing economic situation and we are fully aware that there will continue to be severe limitations on public spending. I hope that in consultation with our members, politicians and other key stakeholders, we can promote innovative and constructive debate on finding practical solutions to the justice issues that many people face on a daily basis, and work to ensure that people continue to get the legal advice they need, when they need it.”

Cameron Ritchie, President of the Society, commented: “The Access to Justice Committee is an important one for the Society. We are facing a prolonged period of austerity and it will be absolutely vital to look at how legal services can be delivered effectively and ensuring proper access to the justice system despite the current financial constraints."

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