Dismay grows over failure of Covid-19 resilience fund for lawyers

Dismay grows over failure of Covid-19 resilience fund for lawyers

Humza Yousaf

The resilience fund set up to support legal practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic is failing to deliver, Glasgow Bar Association (GBA) has warned.

The association wrote to Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Community Safety Secretary Ash Denham yesterday to echo criticisms from the Edinburgh Bar Association (EBA) over the eligibility criteria for the scheme.

“We understand there is a high rejection rate, the figures upon which assessments have been made are factually flawed and that projected income from grants under the legal aid scheme during lockdown are unrealistic,” the GBA said.

“This is compounded by the inclusion of furlough payments which have only preserved staff in employment as it was designed to and does not recompense their employers for the drastic downturn in business since lockdown measures were introduced a year ago.”

The association added: “As we look forward to the easing of lockdown and the resumption of more court business to clear the substantial backlogs that have arisen, we implore you to find a solution to the operation of this scheme which achieves the stated goal of ensuring access to justice for those in need.

“We would be happy to enter into further discussions with you about the experiences of our members and engage with you to achieve the common goal of providing resilience funding to those legal aid practices affected.”

Julia McPartlin, president of Edinburgh Bar Association, yesterday told The Herald that the criteria for the scheme “doesn’t make sense to us and there’s been a lot of disappointment”, but expressed optimism that the issue could be resolved.

Mr Yousaf confirmed over the weekend that the criteria is being reviewed on the back of the first wave of applications.

Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society, said: “This funding is a lifeline for firms struggling to keep the doors open, and volunteers and staff at the Law Society are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that everyone entitled to do so receives this much-needed help.”

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