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by Jenni Davidson
01 February 2017
Scottish Government announces independent review of legal aid

Scottish Government announces independent review of legal aid

Martyn Evans, Carnegie Trust - Image credit: Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has announced an independent review of legal aid in Scotland.

The review, which is expected to last a year, will be chaired by Carnegie Trust chief executive Martyn Evans.

He will be supported by an advisory group of experts including Professor Alan Paterson, Professor Fran Wasoff, former MSP Alison McInnes and representatives from Citizens Advice, Police Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Both the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Law Society of Scotland have called for an update of the legal aid system, which is mainly based on the 30-year-old Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986.

Martyn Evans said: “The provision of timely and effective legal assistance is a necessary part of a fair and equitable society.

“It’s important therefore that Scotland has a system that delivers the best possible support to those who rely on it.

“I am pleased to be asked to chair the review of legal aid and, over the coming months, I look forward to engaging with and hearing from the widest range of people with an interest in this area.”

Announcing the review in a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said: “I am proud we have a legal aid system that enforces people’s rights and upholds social justice.

“Our guiding principle is to focus legal aid on those who need it most and we have maintained access to publicly funded legal aid in both civil and criminal cases.

“With legislation that dates back to the 1980s, change is needed and the time is right to conduct a comprehensive review of legal aid.

“This is about ensuring we have a flexible and progressive system that is sustainable and cost effective.

“Martyn Evans brings a wealth of experience as a champion for the rights of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens.

“I am delighted he has agreed to chair the review and look forward to receiving his report.”

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