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Lawyers warn of further protests

LEGAL professionals have warned of further protest action over plans to change the legal aid system.

Defence lawyers said protests over the Scottish Government's plans will continue after three days of action in recent weeks, including day-long strikes.

The Edinburgh Bar Association, which led the action, met Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill last week to discuss the plans. He stated he would raise the disposable income threshold to £82 from £68 a week.

But in a statement yesterday, the association said Mr MacAskill had offered "no meaningful negotiation" and dismissed his offer as "irrelevant".

"We believe that, as a consequence of the cumulative cuts to summary legal aid fees in particular, fewer young solicitors will enter private practice as criminal defence lawyers. The Scottish Legal Aid Board's stated intention to make further cuts can only make the problem more acute," it added.

"EBA members voted to continue and widen its protest action in the face of the real threat to the existence of the independent criminal bar.

"We continue to enjoy the support of colleagues all over the country and of the Law Society of Scotland."

The association warning comes after the Law Society of Scotland also indicated it remained at loggerheads over the legal aid issue with the Scottish Government.

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