The justice system is rapidly responding to the operational reality of the UK and Scottish Government public health advice.
We understand that these changes create uncertainty for you and your clients. We’re all working hard to find solutions to some of the undoubted challenges they create to assist the delivery of an effective legal aid service.
With immediate effect, and for the duration of the Covid-19 consolidation of custody appearances in a reduced number of courts, we will consider the government instructions on social distancing and virus control to be a “good reason” for delegation of a custody appearance by an appointed solicitor to a solicitor outside the firm.
This is in addition to the existing ability to delegate the appearance to another solicitor in the firm and will reduce the need for solicitors to attend court personally at this time. This may be especially significant for those with cases calling in one of the ten consolidated custody courts who can now instruct a local agent to cover their appearances.
then you should submit the ABWOR application online and select “another good reason” for being unable to act immediately.
If you enter “Covid-19” in the free text box, we will accept the application on that basis.
For the avoidance of doubt, you are responsible for the negotiation and payment of any fee you agree for the solicitor to whom you delegate the appearance e.g. a local agent’s fee, and this is not a charge that may be passed on as an outlay in your ABWOR account: the work is part of the overall work in the case covered by the fixed payment.
Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, by email.