Publication date:October 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament's Criminal Justice committee on the reform of Legal Aid.
How to use bodies who deliver public services in ScotlandPublication date:May 2021
In 2016 Scotland was selected to join the Open Government Partnership (‘OGP’), an international collaboration of over 90 governments across the world committed to three key principles: openness, transparency and public involvement. As part of membership to this partnership programme, the Scottish Government, together with civic society partners, has developed recently been focused on delivering Scotland’s second National Action Plan 2018-20. A key commitment under this plan has been “to improve access to the accountability of public services”.
Supported by the Scottish Government and in collaboration with key partners to this commitment, CAS has produced a booklet explaining how to raise a concern or complaint about a public service in Scotland. It explains how to use public bodies like:
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
The Care Inspectorate
The Scottish Information Commissioner and
as well as providing more information on how to make Freedom of Information requests.
This booklet follows on from earlier research that CAS undertook on behalf of partners to the commitment, which sought to explore levels of understanding and awareness of members of the public of accountability of public services (hyperlinked here from CAS website) in Scotland. The research found low levels of knowledge of regulatory bodies. CAS hopes that by producing this booklet, we can provide clearer information on how the public can engage with public services in Scotland, particularly if they wish to raise a concern or question a decision. We hope that by providing this information we can generate greater awareness of the accountability bodies that operate in Scotland and enable people to engage more confidently with them.
Related work on Scotland's National Open Government Action Plan 2018-20: Commitment 4 Improving Access to Accountability of Public Services: Peoples & Stakeholder Engagement Final Report and Recommendations July 2020 is also available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-second-national-open-government-action-plan-2018-20-commitment-4-improving-access-accountability-public-services-public-stakeholder-engagement/
Citizens Advice Scotland response to a Scottish Government ConsultationPublication date:April 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has responded to a Scottish Government consultation, which proposes changes to the way complaints about legal professionals are handled. CAS broadly supports the proposals, but has concerns about proposed changes to the threshold for eligibility of complaints and about proposals which would affect when a complaint can be treated as closed without the complainer's agreement.
Citizens Advice Scotland response to a consultation by the Scottish Civil Justice CouncilPublication date:April 2021
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has responded to a consultation by the Scottish Civil Justice Council. The consultation sought views on recent Rule changes which made use of Civil Online Mandatory for Simple Procedure cases.
CAS's work on Access to Justice issues aims to ensure that consumers can access legal services and make effective and informed choices about legal issues. We support the development of new and simplified ways of accessing Court services. However, this must not come at the expense of channel choice. We have concerns that the Rule change may have had the effect of excluding party litigants and unrepresented people from the system. We would therefore support additional efforts to ensure inclusivity for those who are digitally excluded. We also have a number of wider suggestions to make in relation to potential reform of the Rules.
A report for Citizens Advice Scotland by Sarah O'Neill ConsultingPublication date:December 2018
Sarah O’Neill Consulting was commissioned by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to carry out research into the role of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) service within the legal advice/access to justice landscape in Scotland.
The purpose of the research was to describe and explore:
> the nature and extent of the role of the CAB service in Scotland within the legal advice/legal services landscape, in dealing with and resolving people’s civil justice problems.
> the quality assurance arrangements which are in place for the training and regulation/accreditation of CAB advisers and court/tribunal representatives.
> the benefits which the work done by the CAB service in Scotland brings in terms of both the wider public interest and for consumers, including a focus on early resolution/ prevention of escalation of problems.
The report found that the CAB service in Scotland plays a key role within the access to justice landscape, at all stages of a client’s ‘journey’. Hundreds of thousands of people who experience civil justice problems are reliant on its services to obtain access to justice. Bureaux provide vital support to clients who are often vulnerable, and who would find it difficult to access the same level of advice and support elsewhere. The entire justice system is therefore heavily dependent on the services which they offer.
In the words of one bureau manager: ‘if we didn’t exist, I think you would need to invent us’.
Modernising Consumer MarketsPublication date:July 2018
CAS welcomes the Consumer Green Paper and a stronger push by the UK government for greater simplicity, transparency and fairness for those that purchase and use goods and services.
CAS response to Scottish Government consultationPublication date:April 2018
Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft rules for the new Scottish Social Security Tribunals. We support a Tribunal continuing to be the forum for final dispute resolution within the Scottish social security system, and compared with some other aspects of the current system, the Tribunal system is relatively well-regarded by CAB clients and advisers.
Report Stage and Third ReadingPublication date:November 2015
This briefing focusses on amendments tabled to the Scotland Bill addressing areas where the
Bill does not appear to meet the intent of the Smith Agreement. Citizens Advice
Scotland is concerned that, as currently drafted, there are risks of detriment
to CAB clients, who sought advice on 220,000 new
benefits issues in 2014/15 and who have been subject to recent changes to reserved tribunals which have
had a marked and detrimental effect on consumers in Scotland.
CAS written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Devolution (Further Powers) CommitteePublication date:August 2015
Whilst there are a number of areas of the Scotland Bill that fully meet the word and spirit of the Smith Agreement, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) believes that, as currently drafted, there are a number of sections of the Bill relating to social security and tribunals that do not appear to meet its intent. CAS is concerned that without changes being made there are clear risks of detriment to CAB clients, who sought advice on 207,875 new benefits issues in 2013/14 and who have been subject to recent changes to reserved tribunals which have had a marked and detrimental effect on consumers in Scotland.
CAS BriefingPublication date:July 2015
This briefing focuses on the devolution of reserved Tribunals. Citizens Advice Scotland considers that clause 33 does not reflect the recommendation made by the Smith Commission that all powers over the management and operation of all reserved tribunals (which includes administrative, legislative and judicial functions) will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
Publication date:June 2015
The civil court process can be daunting: the language, complex forms and buildings themselves are alien to most people. Lay representatives can make the process of pursuing or defending civil rights accessible through providing advice, support and practical help.
Publication date:June 2015
Employment problems are one of the most common types of issues that people seek advice on at a citizens advice bureau. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has published reports showing the impact of poor employment practices, Employment Tribunal fees, non-payment of Employment Tribunal awards, and the misuse of zero hours contracts, which are causes for concern based on the negative experience of CAB clients in Scotland. This briefing was sent to all MSPs ahead of the debate on Employee Rights and Access to Justice tabled by The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham.
Implementing the Smith Agreement: Civil protections and advicePublication date:March 2015
CAS responsePublication date:September 2013
Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to a consultation on the proposed merging of the Scottish Tribunals Service and the Scottish Court Service.
Publication date:May 2013
In early 2013, the Scottish Government put the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill out for consultation. The Bill embodies the changes envisiged in the Gill Review (2007) and includes proposals for the introduction of a new judicial tier as well as a specalist personal injury court. This is the Citizens Advice Scotland response.
Publication date:April 2013
The Scottish Government consulted in early 2013 on the possibility of achieving better dispute resolution in housing through introducing a Housing Tribunal. The consultation sought views on the creation of such a forum and the extent to which a tribunal should have powers. This is the CAS response.
Publication date:December 2012
Citizens Advice Scotland's response to the Scottish Court Services consultation on the future of Scotland's Court services.
Publication date:October 2012
A briefing sent to MSPs ahead of the Stage 1 Perliamentary debate on the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill.
Publication date:August 2012
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the establishment of a Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC) as a body ensuring the effective operation of the civil justice system.
The CAS consultation response the the Scottish Government's proposals for a new tribunal system for ScotlandPublication date:June 2012
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) are broadly supportive of reform to the Scottish Tribunal System which incorporates and builds on the positive features of an accessible, independent, user-focused system.