The purpose of the Section 31 Committee is to determine whether to exclude a solicitor or counsel from giving legal assistance in accordance with the procedure for Consideration of Exclusion of Solicitor or Advocate under Section 31 of Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986.

Separately, and in addition to the powers to exclude under Section 31, we may refer the conduct to other relevant bodies where appropriate, including the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

Committee Members

Board Members

Ray Macfarlane

Chair of the Board; Convener of Section 31 Committee

Executive Team

Colin Lancaster

Chief Executive and Accountable Officer

lancasterco@slab.org.uk

Exclusion decisions

James Reilly, Solicitor, Glasgow

The Section 31 Committee of the Scottish Legal Aid Board has ordered that James Reilly, formerly of Messrs Reilly Cassidy & Co, Glasgow, be excluded from the provision of legal aid for a period of two years with effect from 1 September 2019.

This means that he cannot provide legal aid or advice and assistance during this period.

The removal follows an investigation which found that Mr Reilly’s conduct was wholly inconsistent with that required or expected of a solicitor delivering publicly funded legal services.

The investigation found there had been recklessly inaccurate recording of time claimed to have been spent by Mr Reilly perusing case related documents or considering, viewing or listening to other evidential material.

It was found that he had routinely created records some time after undertaking work, rather than at the time of the work, and that when creating records he had reckless disregard for the accuracy of the detail recorded and the resulting fee claims.

A hearing accepted Mr Reilly’s explanation that several background business and personal factors contributed to an approach to record-keeping that was materially inadequate.

However, it was considered that these could and should have been addressed, and that Mr Reilly’s failure so to do was highly reckless. Mr Reilly’s submission that no dishonesty was intended was accepted.

Kevin Frederick MacPherson, Solicitor, Stornoway

Published Notice in relation to the Exclusion under Section 31(3) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 of Kevin Frederick MacPherson, Solicitor, Stornoway

The Section 31 Committee of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, having considered the referral to the Committee in respect of Kevin Frederick MacPherson, Solicitor, Stornoway, excludes Mr MacPherson, with effect from 31st July 2015 and thereafter without limit of time, from being selected to advise, act for or represent a person seeking or in receipt of legal aid or advice and assistance, or from giving advice and assistance to or from acting for a person to whom legal aid is made available.

The Section 31 Committee was satisfied that there was good reason to exclude Mr MacPherson on the basis of his conduct whilst delivering children’s legal assistance, whereby in an email exchange with a third party he referred or alluded, inappropriately or unnecessarily, to the written statement of a witness that had been disclosed to him in the case by the Children’s Reporter.

The Committee considered that the said conduct was wholly inconsistent with that expected of a solicitor delivering publicly funded legal services.

A solicitor delivering publicly funded legal services requires to maintain and demonstrate high standards of professional conduct and the public are entitled to rely on, and have confidence that, solicitors delivering publicly funded legal services adhere to such standards, and do not conduct themselves in a manner such as that demonstrated by Mr MacPherson.

Gerard Tierney, Solicitor, Auchinleck

On 22nd September 2014, the Section 31 Committee of the Scottish Legal Aid Board excluded Gerard Tierney, Solicitor, Auchinleck, from the provision of legal aid.

The exclusion under section 31 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 excludes Mr Tierney from being selected to advise, act for or represent a person seeking or in receipt of legal aid or advice and assistance, or from giving advice and assistance to or from acting for a person to whom legal aid is made available.

This exclusion was with effect from Monday 22nd September 2014 and thereafter without limit of time.

The Section 31 Committee was satisfied that there was good reason to exclude Mr Tierney on the following basis:

  1. Legal aid account entries were unsupported by file content evidencing that work had actually been carried out;
  2. File content in legal aid files had been created retrospectively to support account charges;
  3. Legal aid account entries in accounts submitted for payment were unsupported by third party checking;
  4. A number of client files for legal aid cases for clients had incomplete client application form mandates missing information which it is compulsory for the solicitor to ensure is recorded;
  5. A number of client files for legal aid cases for clients contained no client application form mandates.

Mark Strachan, Advocate

On 30th June 2014, the Section 31 Committee of the Scottish Legal Aid Board excluded, Mark Strachan, Advocate, from the provision of legal aid.

The exclusion under section 31 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 excludes Mr Strachan from being selected to advise, act for or represent a person seeking or in receipt of legal aid or advice and assistance, or from giving advice and assistance to or from acting for a person to whom legal aid is made available.

This exclusion was with effect from Monday 30th June 2014 and thereafter without limit of time.

The Section 31 Committee was satisfied that there was good reason so to exclude Mr Strachan on the following basis:

  1. In claims for payment from the Legal Aid Fund, creating duplicate and fabricated travel charges when acting for persons to whom Legal Aid or Advice and assistance has been made available;
  2. In claims for payment from the Legal Aid Fund, deliberately deceiving or attempting to deceive SLAB when acting or selected to act for persons to whom Legal Aid or Advice and assistance has been made available.