Legal Aid Fees

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25 October 2022.

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Ash Regan:

The issues that Liam Kerr raises are important. I am sympathetic to some of them, but we need to engage in the debate in a way that takes account of evidence and engages with the detail and the data.

Scotland is one of the leading jurisdictions in Europe in terms of the scope of legal aid. The Scottish National Party Government has invested in legal aid. In Scotland, more than 70 per cent of citizens are eligible for some form of legal aid. I remind members that that is not the case in England under the Conservatives, where its scope has been drastically cut.

I agree with Liam Kerr that access to justice is a fundamental issue. That is why the Government has listened to the profession. I engage regularly with representatives of the profession and have introduced the latest package of fee reforms, which, as I laid out in my earlier answer, is worth £11 million. It is a credible and substantial offer, which the Law Society of Scotland has accepted. It is, of course, in addition to the 13.6 per cent uplift that is already in place. Therefore, it is not accurate to characterise the Government as not listening or responding to the legal profession’s concerns.