Criminal legal aid is automatically available to your client whose case is being prosecuted under solemn procedure until either:
Your client will be given the benefit of automatic criminal legal aid while they are in custody. However, they must apply for legal aid once they are bailed or fully committed.
You can apply to us for solemn legal aid at any time provided it is clear that the accused is being prosecuted under solemn procedure. There is no time limit for submission of a solemn criminal legal aid application.
Assuming that solemn legal aid is not granted until full committal, automatic legal aid will cover:
The automatic criminal legal aid also covers:
Automatic criminal legal aid ceases at the point that your client is admitted to bail or fully committed in custody.
Automatic criminal legal aid ceases if an application for criminal legal aid is determined (whether granted or refused) before full committal.
You should apply to us for solemn criminal legal aid as soon as possible, and no later than admission to bail or full committal if there is to be no interruption in cover.
Your client receiving automatic criminal legal aid in solemn proceedings is entitled to the solicitor of their choice. Your client may use the duty solicitor instead.
A court duty solicitor is available to advise and to act for your client on the day when they are first brought before a sheriff for examination and thereafter until they are admitted to bail or fully committed. The services of the court duty solicitor do not extend to the proceedings prior to the day they are first brought before the sheriff.
The exception to this rule is if your client is in police custody on a charge of:
In such cases, a duty solicitor is allowed to attend, advise and act for them until they are admitted to bail or fully committed [regulation 5 of the Criminal Legal Aid (Scotland) (Fees) Regulations 1989]. Any solicitor is entitled to act in these circumstances.
Advice and assistance is also available.
When your client is first brought before a court to answer to a petition, any preliminary plea will normally be submitted before a plea of guilty or not guilty is tendered. The services to be provided by a duty solicitor may include:
These matters form part of the automatic criminal legal aid available to your client in custody under summary procedure, where only the duty solicitor can provide the criminal legal aid.
You may give advice and assistance in relation to such matters, but this does not include representation in court.
Automatic availability of criminal legal aid
Learn about what happens when the court appoints you to act in a case involving sexual offences, child or vulnerable witnesses or domestic abuse.