Scottish legal aid proposals to turn solicitors into ‘unpaid debt collectors’

Ministers north of the border have put forward legislation that would mean people with a disposal income of £68 a week or more would pay a financial contribution towards criminal legal aid. The Scottish Government reckons this could save £3.9 million a year from the legal aid budget.

MSPs on Holyrood’s Justice Committee backed in principle the proposals in the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill. ‘While the Justice Committee supports the general principles of the Bill, we have made a number of recommendations we expect the Scottish Government to consider carefully to improve this proposed legislation,’ said Committee convener Christine Grahame.

The Scottish Government has said about 80% of people receiving legal aid would continue to pay nothing and that the Bill would end a situation where contributions are collected for civil cases but not for criminal cases.

  • See a BBC Scotland report HERE.

The Law Society of Scotland has raised concerns that the Bill would turn them into ‘unpaid debt collectors’. The society argues that the Scottish Legal Aid Board is the ‘obvious body’ for collecting such money.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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