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Lack of progress prompts Law Society of Scotland withdrawal from legal aid talks

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 Lack of progress prompts Law Society of Scotland withdrawal from legal aid talks

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The Law Society of Scotland pulls out of legal aid fee discussions citing government's stalled actions and lack of commitment

The Society expressed its loss of confidence in the Scottish Government's project after two years of stagnation.

Initiated in 2022, the Legal Aid Remuneration Project and Research Analysis Group aimed to address the long-standing issue of how legal aid is funded in Scotland. However, the government's commitment to conducting research and implementing a fee review mechanism has faltered since then.

Recent developments revealed that while the project was intended to identify a mechanism for regular fee reviews, there was no guarantee of fee increases even if recommended. Consequently, the Law Society opted to withdraw from the discussions.

The Society's Legal Aid Committee conveyed its decision to the Scottish Government Minister for Victims and Community Safety, stipulating that they would only reconsider participation if the government committed to across-the-board fee increases and assured action on recommendations from any agreed fee review mechanism.

Ian Moir, Co-convener of the Legal Aid Committee, expressed regret over the decision, emphasising the lack of tangible progress despite their full participation and good faith in the project. He highlighted the detrimental impact of the stagnation on the legal aid system and the urgent need for funding.

Co-convener Pat Thom echoed these concerns, emphasising the adverse effects on solicitors undertaking legal aid work and the consequent risk to access to justice for the most vulnerable in society. The Law Society urged the Scottish Government to take immediate action to resolve the escalating legal aid crisis and establish a sustainable funding approach.

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