Criminal Legal Aid in Scotland

Publication Date01 Jan 1965
DOI10.1177/002201836502900113
SubjectArticle
Criminal
Legal Aid
in Scotland
THE long delayed introduction of legal aid in criminal
causes in Scotland has now taken place. Provision for such
aid was originally made as part of
the
system of legal aid en-
visaged by
the
Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1949,
but
the
Act was
never applied to criminal causes.
The
1949 Act was amended
by
the
Fourth
Schedule to
the
Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act
1963, and the rather tortuously expressed provisions of
that
Schedule which adds a
number
of new subsections to the 1949
Act form the basis of the law on criminal legal aid. These pro-
visions are supplemented by Acts of Adjournal dealing
with procedural matters, Regulations, and an administrative
scheme prepared by
the
Law Society of Scotland.
The
general purpose of these various enactments is to
provide criminal legal aid within
the
framework of and on a
similar basis to
the
present legal aid scheme for civil causes
which is administered by
the
Law Society
under
the
1949 Act.
The
main differences are
that
since every accused is entitled
to plead not guilty and stand trial there is no equivalent in
criminal causes at first instance to the civil requisite of a
probabilis causa litigandi as a condition for the grant of legal
aid, and
that
since most criminals have little or no funds,
and in any event can hardly pay contributions when in prison,
it has been decided to dispense altogether with any question of
requiring accused persons to make contributions in appropriate
cases to
the
cost of their defence.
Under
the criminal scheme
where legal aid is granted all fees and expenses are paid out of
the
legal aid fund. Criminal legal aid also preserves the best
feature of the present 'unofficial' system which has operated
for many years, if not centuries, whereby poor persons in
custody on criminal charges are entitled to
the
services of an
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