Dear Minister,

I write on behalf of the members of the Aberdeen Bar Association but in support of all criminal legal aid practitioners.  I write to inform you of the impending demise of an entire profession.

Throughout the current pandemic, we have watched with no small degree of respect, those others who have placed themselves at risk in order to allow society to continue to function. There are many who have done so but I refer in particular to doctors, nurses and teachers. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that public services continue to be provided in what are clearly, unprecedented times.

Likewise, we as a profession, along with employees of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, have ensured the smooth running of the justice system, throughout the pandemic. 

Read more: Lawyers take action after Scottish Government refuse to increase legal aid

It is a truth that we take pride in supporting those members of society who need our services.

It is with deep regret therefore that we as a profession find ourselves treated with utter contempt in the face of our ongoing efforts. Many of our number are now embarking on what may prove to be the first in a series of industrial actions. There is no doubt that others will follow suit, should your government fail to address the profound lack of funding provided by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Whilst other professions have been provided with appropriate remuneration over the last 20 years, criminal legal aid solicitors have not received a substantial increase since 1999. As a direct result of continued underfunding by the Scottish Government, the profession is now on it's knees. Fewer graduates are entering the profession and more experienced practitioners are leaving than ever before. 

It is often said that the cornerstone of Scottish justice is the right to a fair trial. Criminal defence solicitors play a crucial part in protecting that right.  That is no doubt why we are designated as "key workers" by your government. It appears however that we are not considered sufficiently "key", to be provided with adequate financial support.

Read moreLawyers left ‘disappointed’ after legal aid rise rejected

I reach out in the hope that you and your government will heed this. I reach out in the hope that you and your government will provide a lifeline to the profession. I reach out on behalf of all individuals in society who require both our services and protection.

I await your response.


Yours sincerely,

Stuart Murray

President of Aberdeen Bar Association