More than 400 inactive lawyers on Criminal Legal Aid Register
The Scottish Legal Aid Board has confirmed that as at 1 June 2023 there were 975 lawyers on the Criminal Legal Aid Register, following a freedom of information request by the Scottish Solicitors Bar Association (SSBA).
Of those 975, however, 238 received no payment for criminal legal aid in the year 2022-2023 – this figure includes solicitors who work for the Solicitor Contact Line and the PDSO. A further 171 received payment that amounted to less than £6,000.
Accordingly, the SSBA is asking all firms currently registered to provide criminal legal assistance to conduct an audit and remove those lawyers who either do not accept instructions in criminal legal aid cases or have left their firm.
Stuart Murray, president of the SSBA, said: “The Scottish Legal Aid Board are complacent about the ongoing crisis within criminal legal aid and the Criminal Legal Aid Register fuels that complacency. Even a cursory glance at the register shows solicitors who have left criminal legal aid, have retired or, in some cases, been appointed to judicial office.
“The register is therefore creating a false impression of capacity and sustainability. In short, we are asking our colleagues to abate the register. This will allow the SLAB to provide the Scottish government with an accurate account of the number of lawyers who are actually available to provide criminal legal assistance to the people of Scotland.”