Current Scottish Legal Aid Policy?

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What is the Current Scottish Legal Aid Policy? Legal aid in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), an institutional body created by the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 (Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2016). The actions of SLAB are consistent and stable but the Scottish government decides the aims of legal aid policy and the Scottish Parliament can implement legislative changes to the policy (Edinburgh & Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2016). The Scottish Legal Aid Board regulates the distribution of financial aid for those who are engaged or need to engage in legal proceedings but have financial constraints. This includes the review of legal aid applications, fraud investigation, and distribution of aid (Edinburgh & Scottish …show more content…
This board was created by the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 to give the government full control of the legal aid scheme, rather than merging it with the law society (which also catered to private attorneys) (Huen, 2011). This was when the legal aid system become fully separate from the legal profession and began being directly regulated by Scottish government. In 1998 a national registry of public solicitors carrying out free legal assistance was created to make regulation easier (Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2016). Shortly after, the Public Defense Solicitor’s Office pilot was established in Edinburgh. These were the first publicly employed attorneys for criminal cases in Scotland (Public Defense Solicitor’s Office, 2016). This program was expanded to Glasgow and Inverness in 2004. There were two major changes across this time period – first was the massive increase in government control that began with the 1949 act, and second was the increase in access to legal aid for the indigent. This second increase is important to note – in 1952 (the first full year of legal aid), the Law society granted 4,400 cases legal aid (Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2016). In 2004, advice and assistance were granted in over 300,000 cases and aid was given in over 87,000 criminal cases and over 12,000 civil cases (Scottish Legal Aid Board, …show more content…
After spending on legal aid reached a peak, the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill cut legal aid spending and required more accused persons to field the cost of their cases (BBC Scotland, 2013) Even the Scottish Legal Aid Board has begun cutting some of their own costs and attempting to cut down on legal aid fraud (Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2015). The recent decision in the Supreme Court case “Cadder v. HMA” also demonstrates skepticism to whether legal advice should be granted to those detained by the police for questioning (Scottish Legal Aid Board, 2015). The progression of Scottish legal aid policy may be changing

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