SCOTLAND’S court system could be thrown into chaos as defence solicitors throughout the country threaten strike action over a controversial change to the legal aid system.
The Edinburgh Bar Association has already decided “overwhelmingly” in favour of industrial action, while the Glasgow Bar Association (GBA) and other organisations are expected to follow this week.
If the lawyers’ strike action goes ahead, it will cause widespread disruption to justice of the peace, sheriff and high courts, with long delays to cases.
The Scottish Government has proposed that accused people who have a disposable income of £68 a week must make a financial contribution to their legal aid.
Solicitors will be asked to collect the contributions from their clients in summary cases – instead of receiving the whole fee from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Slab). But they argue they will be left out of pocket if clients do not pay up. The Bar associations and the Law Society of Scotland believe Slab should be collecting the fees, as the board has agreed to do in jury cases.