1 November 2022
This update is to provide details of new Advice and Assistance (Summary Criminal Proceedings)(Miscellaneous Amendment) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 coming into force on 4 November 2022.
These regulations amend the legal aid fee arrangements to allow the inclusive sheriff court summary fixed fee of £550.76 to be paid to defence agents at an earlier stages of cases than at present.
We believe that the benefits of these changes are:
The changes to the Advice and Assistance and ABWOR regulations have been made to make the Summary fixed fee available to solicitors in sheriff court cases which can be resolved at the early stages without a court appearance. At present, cases resolved in this way cannot be covered by the fixed fees.
These changes will allow for the fixed fee of £550.76 to be paid under Advice and Assistance or ABWOR prior to the first court appearance, once the complaint has been issued, or where the PF has decided to prosecute the case, and the solicitor has confirmed they are acting in the case, before the complaint is formally issued.
If the case then proceeds to court, then ABWOR remains in place for the entire case, unless a plea of Not Guilty is tendered at any stage, when an application for summary criminal legal aid will be needed to cover the trial add on fees. The usual reduced rates will still apply where more than one solicitor acts for a client in the same case.
These changes are being made to support the New Summary Criminal Model Pilots in Dundee, Hamilton and Paisley, where more information is now being disclosed to the defence at the start of cases to help encourage earlier resolution. In these cases, as soon as key information is received by the Crown, they will disclose it to the solicitor, provided they have received a Letter of Engagement confirming that they are acting in the case. In some instances, this may even be before the complaint is formally issued.
While the new early disclosure arrangements will be concentrated in the three pilot court areas, these Regulations apply to all cases across the country, so solicitors in other areas will also benefit from being able to claim the fixed fees in cases which can be resolved at these early stages.
Some changes will be made to the legal aid online (LAOL) systems for these cases in due course.
In the meantime, you can use the current online system for submitting Advice and Assistance or ABWOR applications for cases which have been resolved before the commencement of proceedings (A&A) or before the first court appearance (ABWOR).
For full details on applying for these early resolution cases please see the Legal Aid Guidance on:
For further information, please contact:
Head of Criminal Legal Assistance