The Independent Strategic Review Group was established by the Scottish Government in February 2017
To consider the legal aid system in 21st century Scotland and how best to respond to the changing justice, social, economic, business and technological landscape within which a modern and flexible legal aid system should operate.
The Review is due to report to the Scottish Government by February 2018.
From a Scottish Citizens Advice Service perspective, the largest areas where we see our clients suffering significant detriment are often in the areas where legal aid is least available. These areas relate predominantly to areas of civil and administrative justice, and can often be identified as moments of crisis caused by a lack or loss of income.
The purpose of this written evidence is not to suggest that a new legal aid model should try to direct all people experiencing issues such as those with their social security benefits to go to a legal aid solicitor. Such an approach would not be cost effective nor appropriate in many instances.
CAS's response does however seek to highlight the importance of services offered by CABs and projects, such as In-Court Advice Projects, in many of these areas. While these services are somewhat separate to the traditional model of legal aid provision, they all work towards the same end – improving access to justice for those who need it most.
This must be fully recognised and prioritised in future models of legal aid, and consideration should be given to how legal aid funding can best ensure these services are given a stable longer-term foundation across the breadth of Scotland to help create a fairer more just society for all. Our full response is available to download below.