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Criminal contributions to legal aid

The Law Society of Scotland has raised serious concerns over the detail of new legislation which introduces financial contributions for many of those receiving criminal legal aid.

Submitting its written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, the Society said the threshold at which contributions would become payable was too low. It also argued that the Scottish Legal Aid Board rather than solicitors should collect the contributions to ensure a consistent system.

The Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill was introduced in May this year. The legislation would establish a Civil Justice Council and introduce financial contributions for criminal legal aid for the first time.

The Society has consistently supported the principle of contributions in criminal legal aid but has raised a series of concerns over the detail of the Scottish Government's proposals.

Oliver Adair, the convener of the Society's legal aid negotiating team, said:

"We agree that people who can afford to pay a portion of the cost of their legal aid should do, provided they can afford it.

"However the Bill proposes that the threshold for determining whether a contribution is payable should be £68 disposable income a week. We do not believe that is a realistic amount from which to expect anybody to pay towards their legal costs.”

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Saturday, 28 March 2020

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