Preparing for Criminal Contributions


Thursday, Oct 10, 2013

Part 2 of the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance (Scotland) Act 2013, which will introduce contributions to most types of criminal legal assistance, and change the financial eligibility test for criminal ABWOR, is due to  come into force in early 2014.

We have been working closely with the Scottish Government and the Law Society of Scotland on the new regulations associated with the 2013 Act. These are due to be laid in Parliament shortly.

The Board will collect contributions for solemn criminal legal aid, criminal appeals, summary criminal legal aid exceptional cases and cases reduced from solemn to summary procedure. Solicitors will collect contributions for criminal A&A and ABWOR (as they do now) and summary criminal legal aid.

A great deal of work is currently taking place to prepare for the introduction of contributions, including major updates to our computer systems. The Criminal ABWOR, summary and solemn criminal systems will be changed to process the undue hardship test and calculate contributions.

When completing online applications, solicitors will be given an indication of the applicant’s likely contribution before you submit the application. An eligibility calculator and online ‘App’ will be also available from our website.

The standardised undue hardship test will be used across the aid types of ABWOR, summary criminal, solemn criminal and criminal appeals. We will assess eligibility and contributions payable for summary criminal legal aid, solemn criminal legal aid and criminal appeals legal aid.

In summary, solemn and criminal appeals cases, legal aid will be granted once we are satisfied that the interests of justice test has been met (where applicable), and the applicant is financially eligible, either with or without a contribution to pay towards the cost of the case.

We will be issuing guidance for solicitors on how to apply the undue hardship test in criminal ABWOR cases, which will give clear advice on the income, outgoings and capital that can be taken into account in the test. We will also be producing short leaflets for solicitors to give to applicants to explain financial eligibility and the position regarding contributions.

The information on criminal legal assistance which is included with copy complaints and petitions will also be updated.

We will also be holding a series of roadshows around the country to explain the changes prior to implementation.

For more information

Please contact Kingsley Thomas, Manager of Criminal Legal Assistance, by emailing thomaski@slab.org.uk.


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