CRIMINAL lawyers throughout Scotland could soon be able to vote online on issues affecting the profession, under new proposals by the regulatory body.

The Law Society of Scotland has put forward plans for an e-voting system after carrying out a review into its work on legal aid.

A discussion paper outlining the society's vision for the future also suggests the possibility of an online forum where solicitors can keep up-to-date with issues and contribute to any discussion.

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Austin Lafferty, president of the Law Society, said: "Two-way communication will be vital. I would hope that as we develop our use of technology, such as e-voting, members will become more IT-active, and join in the practice of keeping in touch with disseminated information through e-mails and web content.

"Indeed, it may be possible to create a criminal legal aid online forum that is active and available to legal aid practitioners, and which of itself will encourage awareness and input. It is crucial that, if members are asked or empowered to vote, they have all the facts."

The proposals come after solicitors threatened to break away from the body over its decision to accept controversial legal aid plans, despite the majority of its members voting against them.

Mark Harrower, of the Edinburgh Bar Association, said: "We are encouraged by the approach taken by the society."