Availability of special urgency for criminal appeals

We can grant criminal legal aid, in connection with an appeal, in a matter of special urgency. There are no financial or merits tests.

Our policy is that special urgency legal aid is available for the purpose of ensuring that you can meet the statutory time limits for intimating and lodging an appeal.

To make our decision, the information we need from you is:

  • Is the work urgent? There is urgency only if the appeal is being submitted within the appropriate statutory time limit for intimating and lodging the appeal.
  • What type of appeal procedure is it?
  • What steps do you need to take that are specific to that type of appeal?

What types of appeal procedure are covered?

Special urgency legal aid is available for criminal appeals which have a sift process, or for criminal appeals which proceed by other methods, such as: Bills of Suspension, or Petitions to the Nobile Officium.

Special urgency legal aid can be granted:

  • In solemn proceedings, where the appropriate method of appeal against conviction and/or sentence is by Note of Appeal. The grant of special urgency can be extended to cover the work involved where a notice of intention to appeal is lodged timeously but an extension of time is required to lodge the note of appeal under Section 110(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.
  • In summary proceedings, where the appropriate method of appeal against conviction or conviction and sentence is by Stated Case; an appeal against sentence only is by note of appeal.
  • Where the method of appeal is either a petition to the Nobile Officium or a Bill of Suspension.

All work in connection with giving advice and taking the client’s final instructions on whether to proceed with an appeal is included within the original legal aid grant.  We will not grant special urgency legal aid cover for this work.

Special urgency legal aid remains in force until such time as leave to appeal is granted, either in part, in full, or is refused. Where an appeal is refused at the first sift, the grant of special urgency legal aid covers any application to the second sift.

If leave to appeal is granted, you should make an application for legal aid for the appeal.

Where a sift decision is only partially successful a full legal aid appeal application should be made. The sift process is considered complete and you cannot continue to use the special urgency cover for work associated with the appeal.

 Where the court decision is not a final disposal

 Special urgency legal aid is not available where an appeal is against a court decision which is not a final disposal (eg a decision made regarding a preliminary plea). Instead, the work is covered by the grant of legal aid for the first instance proceedings.

Applying for special urgency cover under Regulation 15

Once you have obtained instructions to appeal, special urgency cover can be made available to cover the work required to complete the sift process.

You should apply to us for this using Legal Aid Online.

We ask you to tell us what work you need to do. Only select the specific work items from the drop down list in the online system that are appropriate to the type of appeal.

Use the ‘other’ box to add any additional work items not on the list. Most commonly, these might be:

  • Counsel to draft and lodge the Note of Appeal,
  • Counsel to consult with the applicant.

Send us an online notification if, after we grant special urgency legal aid:

  • You require cover for additional work items, or
  • You want to employ an expert or counsel as part of the urgent work. If the appeal is against a murder conviction, you don’t need our prior approval for senior counsel. Remember to send a copy of the expert’s quote.

We can’t use the usual sanction application process where there is only a grant of special urgency legal aid.

Failure to meet a time limit

If the appeal is being made after the statutory time limit has expired, the work to apply to the court to allow the appeal to be lodged late is covered by advice and assistance only. Special urgency legal aid is not available. Any grant of special urgency cover will end with the expired time limit.

However, if you have made a timeous application for an extension of time in which to lodge the intimation of intention to appeal [section 109(1) of the 1995 Act] or the note of appeal [section 110(2) of the 1995 Act] special urgency legal aid can cover the work involved and you should ask us to extend the scope of the special urgency grant to include this work.

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