Availability of legal aid for contempt of court proceedings

Requirement to make applications: legal aid not available automatically

Legal aid in contempt proceedings is not automatically available. You must apply to the court for proceedings at first instance and to us for an appeal arising from a finding of contempt.  We need to be satisfied on both means and merits.

Types of contempt proceedings for which legal aid is available: sections 30(1) and 30(3) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986

Proceedings at first instance

Legal aid is available where your client is liable to be dealt with for contempt of court during or in connection with any proceedings. [section 30(1) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986]


Legal aid is available for an appeal against a decision of a court in proceedings for contempt of court [section 30(3) of the Act].  This includes a petition to the Nobile Officium of the High Court of Justiciary or of the Court of Session.

Separation of first instance and appeals contempt work: distinct proceedings for legal aid purposes

Under regulation 3 of The Legal Aid in Contempt of Court Proceedings (Scotland) Regulations 1992, the proceedings below are each treated as distinct proceedings:

  • Any proceedings for contempt that arise during or in connection with any other proceedings. Those proceedings include any remit of your client in contempt from the district court to the sheriff court [section 15(5) of the 1986 Act].
  • Any appeal against a court decision in the proceedings for contempt

We expect separate legal aid applications for the distinct proceedings.  We cannot make, or extend, a single grant of legal aid to cover both contempt proceedings at first instance and any appellate proceedings arising from a finding of contempt.

Definition of legal aid in contempt

Legal aid in contempt cases consists of representation from you and, where appropriate, by counsel.  It includes all assistance usually given by you or counsel in the steps proceedings for contempt, or any appeal in connection with such proceedings.

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