Advice for All: Publicly Funded Legal Assistance in Scotland ? The Way Forward - a Consultation

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Justice Department
Access to Justice Division

Andrew Dickson
Head of Division
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Telephone: 0131-244 2698
Fax: 0131-244 8325
andrew.dickson@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
http://www.scotland.gov.uk

Your ref:
Our ref: 2LAG 002/013/009
17 June 2005

Dear Consultee

ADVICE FOR ALL: PUBLICLY FUNDED LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN SCOTLAND- THE WAY FORWARD

In June 2004, the Strategic Review of the Delivery of Legal Aid, Advice and Information reported to Scottish Ministers. The Review made a number of recommendations for change in the systems of legal aid and advice and the related arrangements for the provision of a wide range of advice with a view to ensuring better co-ordination of advice services across the board and other improvements in access to justice and related services.

The enclosed consultation document sets the Scottish Executive's proposals for the way forward in Publicly Funded Legal Assistance in Scotland. It deals with publicly funded advice and services provided by lawyers and advice by non-lawyers in the public and voluntary sectors.

Scottish Ministers welcome your views on the proposals outlined in this paper, so that we can establish how to ensure that appropriate access to justice will be available to all as well as addressing significant strategic issues.

We seek views from a range of interested parties including the legal profession, umbrella bodies of legal advice providers in the voluntary sector, other justice system agencies and user representatives. A list of those to whom this consultation paper has been sent is attached as Annex A.

Responding to this consultation paper

We are inviting written responses to this consultation paper by Friday 9 September 2005. Please send your response to:

PFLA Consultation
Access to Justice Division
Scottish Executive
2 nd Floor West
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
EDINBURGH EH1 3DG
or
pfla@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

If you have any queries contact Tara McGregor on 0131-244 2199.

We would be grateful if you would use the consultation questionnaire provided as this will aid our analysis of the responses received.

This consultation, and all other Scottish Executive consultation exercises, can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Executive website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations. You can telephone Freephone 0800 77 1234 to find out where your nearest public internet access point is.

The Scottish Executive now has an email alert system for consultations ( SEconsult: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/seconsult.aspx). This system allows stakeholder individuals and organisations to register and receive a weekly email containing details of all new consultations (including web links). SEconsult complements, but in no way replaces SE distribution lists, and is designed to allow stakeholders to keep up to date with all SE consultation activity, and therefore be alerted at the earliest opportunity to those of most interest. We would encourage you to register.

Handling your response

We need to know how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be made public. Please complete and return the Respondent Information Form attached to this letter as this will ensure that we treat your response appropriately. If you ask for your response not to be published we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Executive are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public (see the attached Respondent Information Form), these will be made available to the public in the Scottish Executive Library by 7 October 2005 and on the Scottish Executive consultation web pages by 14 October 2005. We will check all responses where agreement to publish has been given for any potentially defamatory material before logging them in the library or placing them on the website. You can make arrangements to view responses by contacting the SE Library on 0131 244 4565. Responses can be copied and sent to you, but a charge may be made for this service.

What happens next?

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us reach a decision on the way forward for Publicly Funded Legal Assistance in Scotland. We aim to issue a report on this consultation process by late autumn, including an indication of the policy decisions Ministers have taken in the light of the consultation.

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to the address given above.

Yours sincerely

ANDREW DICKSON signature

ANDREW DICKSON
Head of Access to Justice Division
Scottish Executive

Annex A Consultees for Advice for All: Publicly funded legal assistance in Scotland - The Way Forward

Aberdeen Bar Association
Aberdeen City Council
Aberdeenshire Council
Advice UK
Age Concern Scotland
Angus Council
Argyll and Bute Council
Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
Ayr Faculty of Solicitors
Capability Scotland
Castlemilk Law and Money Advice Centre
CBI Scotland
Chair of Drug Action Teams Chairs Group ( DAT)
Children 1 st
Children in Scotland
Citizens Advice Scotland and all Members
City of Edinburgh Council
Civic Forum
Clackmannanshire Council
Clydeside Action on Asbestos
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Commission for Racial Equality
Communities Scotland - Homepoint
Communities Scotland
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
Couple Counselling Lothian
Court of Session
Crown Agent
Crown Office
Deaf Blind Scotland
Department of Constitutional Affairs
Disability Rights Commission
District Courts Association
Drumchapel Law and Money Advice Centre
Dumfries and Galloway Council
Dundee City Council
Dundee North Law Centre
Dunoon Faculty of Solicitors of Dunbartonshire
East Ayrshire Council
East Dunbartonshire Council
East Lothian Council
East Renfrewshire Council
Eastend Law Centre
Edinburgh Bar Association
Edinburgh Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse
Equal Opportunities Commission
Ethnic Minorities Law Centre
Faculty of Advocates
Faculty of Procurators & Solicitors in Dundee
Faculty of Procurators for the Stewarty
Faculty of Procurators in Paisley
Faculty of Procurators of Berwickshire
Faculty of Procurators of Caithness
Faculty of Procurators of Dumfriesshire
Faculty of Procurators of East Lothian
Faculty of Procurators of Greenock
Faculty of Roxburgh Solicitors
Faculty of Solicitors in Bute
Faculty of Solicitors in Ross-shire
Faculty of Solicitors in Roxburghshire
Faculty of Solicitors in Shetland
Faculty of Solicitors of Campbeltown
Faculty of Solicitors of Dumbartonshire
Faculty of Solicitors of Kincardine & Deeside
Faculty of Solicitors of Lanark & District Criggies
Faculty of Solicitors of Oban
Faculty of Solicitors of the Highlands
Falkirk & District Faculty of Solicitors
Falkirk Council
Family Law Association of Scotland
Family Mediation Scotland
Fife Council
Gingerbread Scotland
Glasgow Bar Association
Glasgow City Council
Glasgow Immigration Practitioners Group
Glasgow Sheriff Court
Govan Law Centre
Grandparents Apart - Self Help Group
High Court of Judiciary
Highland Council
Immigration Advisory Service
Inverclyde Council
Judicial Studies Committee for Scotland
Kilmarnock Faculty of Solicitors
Kirkcaldy Law Faculty
Law Society of Scotland
Legal Services Agency Ltd
Legal Services Commission
Lochaber Faculty of Solicitors
Lord Justice Clerk
Midlothian Council
Money Advice Scotland
Moray Council
Moray Faculty of Solicitors
North Ayrshire Council
North Lanarkshire Council
One-Parent Families Scotland
Orkney Islands Council
Paisley Law Centre
Perth and Kinross Council
Public Defence Solicitors' Office
Renfrewshire Council
Rights Advice Scotland
Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow
Royal National Institute for the Blind Scotland
Scottish Accessible Information Forum
Scottish Association for Mental Health
Scottish Association of Law Centres
Scottish Borders Council
Scottish Chamber of Commerce
Scottish Child Law Centre
Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
Scottish Consumer Council
Scottish Council on Deafness
Scottish Court Service
Scottish Law Agents Society
Scottish Legal Action Group
Scottish Legal Aid Board
Scottish Low Pay Unit
Scottish Mediation Network
Scottish Refugee Council
Scottish Sheriff Court Users Group
Scottish Trade Union Congress
Scottish Welfare Law Practitioners Association
Scottish Women's Aid
Sense Scotland
Shakti Women's Aid
Shelter Scotland
Sheriff Clerk, Aberdeen Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Airdrie Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Arbroath Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Ayr Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Banff Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Camelon Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Campbelltown Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Cupar Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dingwall Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dornoch Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dumbarton Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dumfries Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dunfermline Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Dunoon Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Duns Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Elgin Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Forfar Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Fort William Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Glasgow and Strathkelvin Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Greenock Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Haddington Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Hamilton Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Inverness Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Jedburgh Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Kirkwall Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Lanark Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Lerwick Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Linlithgow Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, North Uist Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Oban Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Paisley Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Peebles Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Perth Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Peterhead Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Portree Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Rothesay Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Selkirk Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Stirling Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Stonehaven Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Stornoway Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Stranraer Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Tain Sheriff Court
Sheriff Clerk, Wick Sheriff Court
Sheriff Principal, Glasgow and Strathkelvin
Sheriff Principal, Grampian, Highland and Islands
Sheriff Principal, Lothian and Borders
Sheriff Principal, North Strathclyde
Sheriff Principal, South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway
Sheriff Principal, Tayside, Central and Fife
Sheriffs' Association
Shetland Islands Council
Society of Advocates in Aberdeen
Society of Procurators and Solicitors of Angus
Society of Procurators in Orkney
Society of Solicitors & Procurators for the Eastern District of Fife
Society of Solicitors & Procurators in the City and County of Perth
Society of Solicitors & Procurators of Stirling
Society of Solicitors and Administrators in Scotland
Society of Solicitors in Airdrie
Society of Solicitors in Banffshire
Society of Solicitors in the Shires of Selkirk and Peebles
Society of Solicitors of Ayr
Society of Solicitors of Dunfermline & District
Society of Solicitors of Hamilton & District
Society of the Solicitors in the Supreme Courts
Society of West Lothian Solicitors
South Ayrshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council
Stirling Council
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
The Thistle Foundation
Victim Support Scotland
Victim Support, Stirling
West Dumbarton Law Centre
West Dunbartonshire Council
West Lothian Council
Western Isles Faculty of Solicitors
Wigtown District Faculty of Solicitors
Writers to the Signet Society
WRVS

Ministerial Foreword

Photo of Cathy Jamieson MSP Minister for Justice

This consultation paper sets out the Scottish Executive's vision for reforming publicly funded legal assistance in Scotland. Publicly funded legal assistance comprises not only the advice and services provided by lawyers and paid for through legal aid or other public funding, but also advice provided by non-lawyers in the public and voluntary sectors in relation to justiciable problems.

First class, responsive and efficient public services are essential for the safer, stronger Scotland we are determined to build. Efficient and effective criminal and civil justice systems are vital public services, impacting on the lives of each and every one of us, every day. They must be based on the principles of fairness and inclusiveness.

Our people and our communities must have confidence in the law and the legal system and trust it to deliver fair solutions promptly and effectively, with ready access for those who need it. Our reform of the High Court and summary justice is already underway. Our proposals on the reform of legal aid, advice and assistance contribute to and underpin those wider reforms. They also contribute to the streamlining and modernisation of advice provision in the civil field.

Over the past few years a great deal of work has been done to identify improvements in the advice system of publicly funded advice in Scotland, including the report of the Justice 1 Committee in the first session of the Scottish Parliament, published in November 2001, and the Review of Legal Information and Advice Provision in Scotland undertaken at the same time. The Strategic Review of the Delivery of Legal Aid, Advice and Information, published last October, on which the proposals in this paper are largely based, continued that work.

This paper contains proposals for strategic reforms, including fundamental changes to the ways in which publicly funded legal assistance is provided, as well as technical and administrative improvements to the existing legal aid system. We must achieve the correct balance between access to the right advice and help for the individual in each case, on the one hand, and value for money in public expenditure on the other: effectiveness and efficiency must be pursued with equal vigour.

Please take the time to consider all the proposals carefully. I very much look forward to hearing your views.

Signature of Cathy Jamieson MSP Minister for Justice

Cathy Jamieson MSP
Minister for Justice