News In Focus
Glasgow and Edinburgh planning Scottish Bar Association
Talks have taken place between the Glasgow and Edinburgh Bar Associations with a view to establishing a nationwide Scottish Bar Association to press the case for better legal aid provision, the Herald reports today.
The move follows the growing movement to withdraw from the police station duty solicitor scheme from tomorrow, when new laws on arrest and questioning are predicted to increase the burden on solicitors providing advice to those held.
Defence solicitors in Edinburgh decided before Christmas that they would no longer take part in the scheme, and have since been followed by others in large areas of Scotland. They maintain that they cannot provide the expected level of cover while also providing normal client service during the day, and that the proposed legal aid rates are insufficient to allow them to pay for additional support.
The Law Society of Scotland is continuing to negotiate with the Scottish Government in an attempt to secure additional funding, but takes a neutral position on direct action.
Meanwhile the Scottish Legal Aid Board has been attempting to recruit additional solicitors to provide advice through its own service. It maintains that the burden on the profession will be much less than predicted by the bars.