THE dispute between the Scottish Government and the legal profession looks set to continue after several legal associations voted to reject proposed amendments to controversial legal aid plans.

Bar associations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dumbarton, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy all refused to accept the proposed changes, with others expected to follow.

The lawyers are unhappy at Government plans to charge contributions for legal aid for those with a disposable income of more than £68 a week – a move they claim will limit access to justice.

Loading article content

They are also unhappy at being forced to collect the contributions from their clients in summary (non-jury) cases and claim that the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Slab) is best placed to make the collections.

The Law Society of Scotland has been in talks with the Government over the proposed amendments, which include increasing the contribution threshold from £68 to £82.

But the solicitors argue that they do not go far enough and make little difference to the Government proposals.

Ann Ritchie, president of the Glasgow Bar Association, said: "The whole principal of contributions in the manner being introduced is still unacceptable."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Throughout the development and passage of our Bill, the Scottish Government has met the Law Society of Scotland regularly. Constructive discussions are ongoing."