Termination of criminal legal aid by the court

The court has wide powers to direct that a client should cease to be entitled to criminal legal aid in connection with the proceedings before the court, either at first instance or on appeal under Rule 33.3 of the Act of Adjournal (Criminal Procedure Rules) 1996.

The court may take this step where they are satisfied the client has:

  • Failed to supply information as requested by you
  • Delayed unreasonably in complying with any such request
  • Unjustifiably failed to attend at a diet of court
  • Unjustifiably failed to attend a meeting with you or counsel
  • Conducted themselves in an unreasonable way
  • Wilfully or deliberately given false information for the purpose of misleading the court considering their financial circumstances
  • Failed to comply with a requirement of the regulations

The clerk of court must report the termination of criminal legal aid to us. No further chargeable work can be undertaken under the grant of legal aid.

Further circumstances where the court may terminate criminal legal aid

The court also has the power to discontinue criminal legal aid where:

  • The court is satisfied it is unreasonable for you to continue to act on behalf of the client
  • The client is receiving automatic criminal legal aid [section 22 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986].

In such circumstances, the client shall not be entitled to criminal legal aid in relation to any later stages of the same proceedings

Where you were appointed by the court to act on behalf of the client, the court will not direct that the client should cease to be entitled to legal aid but can relieve you from acting (and appoint another solicitor).

The full list of offences in respect of which a court may now appoint a solicitor under automatic criminal legal aid [section 22(1) (dd) of the 1986 Act] includes:

  • 288C – sexual offences
  • 288E – child witnesses
  • 288F – vulnerable witnesses
  • 288DC (1)(a) [Section 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 Act]
  • 288DC (1)(b) [Section 1(1)(a) of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016]

In this section

Termination of criminal legal aid

Termination of criminal legal aid by us

Learn about when we will terminate criminal legal aid or special urgency and the powers we have to recover your fees and outlays from your client.