Legal Aid Budget Cuts
The Scottish Legal Aid Board have announced that the legal aid budget for 2016-17 is to be reduced by over 7%. There has been a 31% cut in the legal aid budget in recent years. The cuts have impacted upon the provision of legal services by solicitors across the board including crimal law, family law including divorce and child cases, compensation claims, and civil court work more generally.
These cuts have dramatically restricted access to justice for Scotland’s poorest families. These cuts began to be introduced before the financial crisis and before austerity measures were introduced in other sectors. Therefore, legal aid had already been reduced to a skeleton service before more widespread cuts were introduced.
If the proposed further cuts are implemented then it could have a disastrous effect on access to justice and on the legal system more generally. As numbers of individuals representing themselves in courts increases, it places an even greater burden on the courts. That in turn simply increases the cost of administering the courts system. Consequently, if cuts in legal aid progress further there is genuine concern that it will not even result in any net saving to public expenditure! It may simply prevent poorer people being properly represented within the justice system.
It is to be hoped that this will be recognised and that the Scottish Government will re-consider its legal aid budget allocation to prevent further social inequality in the justice system.
We are proud to be able to offer legal aid to our clients and we hope to be able to continue to do so for many years to come.View all →