Legal aid in contempt appeals: applications to us and tests applied

Relevance of Section 25 of the Act (criminal appeals) and guidance elsewhere

Section 25 of the Act on criminal legal aid for appeal proceedings also applies to legal aid for an appeal against a decision of a court in proceedings for contempt.  You should, therefore refer to our guidance on criminal appeals.

Required form of application: Legal Aid Online

You should apply to us for legal aid for an appeal through legal aid online.  Any appeal will normally be by bill of suspension or by petition to the nobile officium of the Court of Session or of the High Court of Justiciary, and you can adapt the form for the particular case.  Please clearly highlight on the form that you are applying for legal aid for contempt of court appeal proceedings, not for a criminal appeal.

Matters we consider in contempt applications: undue hardship and merits tests

Unless the applicant had legal aid for the contempt proceedings at first instance, we have to consider the applicant’s financial circumstances.  You must satisfy us that meeting the expenses of the appeal would cause the applicant or their dependants undue hardship.

Whether we have to consider the merits of the appeal depends on the method of appeal adopted.

  • If the appeal is by proceedings at common law, we have no locus to consider the merits of the appeal.
  • If the appeal is by petition to the nobile officium, or is under some provision of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 other than section 106(1) or section 175(2), you must satisfy us that in all the circumstances it is in the interests of justice to grant legal aid.

Where we have to consider the interests of justice, you can point out in the application any relevant circumstances.

We may grant legal aid for an appeal in contempt proceedings subject to the applicant satisfying us from time to time that it is reasonable for them to continue to receive legal aid.

Availability of special urgency for contempt appeals work: manner of application and requirements

Regulation 5 enables us to grant legal aid for an appeal in a matter of special urgency, although we are not satisfied that the applicant is financially eligible or on the merits of the appeal (where either of these applies).  If we do grant legal aid in these circumstances, we may limit what it is available for.

The regulations do not define “special urgency” and do not specify when it may be deemed to exist.  Each case must be dealt with on its own particular merits.

You can apply to us for legal aid in a matter of special urgency by letter or, in extreme urgency, by telephone or fax.

If we grant legal aid in a matter of special urgency, the applicant must satisfy us that they are entitled to legal aid under section 25 as read with section 30.  You must apply for legal aid within 14 days of the grant of legal aid in a matter of special urgency.  If you do not do so, the grant of legal aid will end automatically after 14 days, without further notice.

In this section