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Code of Practice


Updating the Code of Practice is one of three strands of work that the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, asked SLAB to carry out as part of a review of the government’s strategy for legal aid. 

Project lead: Brian Millar

Contact for information: Michelle Fegan, Policy Assistant T: 0131 240 1892 E:

SLAB has been considering an updated Code of Practice for some time, but we want to incorporate ideas from the profession and others.

We consulted on a new Code of Practice and discussed it with a range of solicitors and other stakeholders before making the Code available for wider consultation.


The first stage was to discuss the future scope and content of the Code with solicitors, faculty, representatives from the Justice Sector, clients and groups representing clients.

This informed the content of the Code.

Background to the code

The Code was first introduced in 1998 and has not been substantially altered since then. In that time there have been many changes to the wider justice system, general business practice, expectations of customer service and public service delivery. The Code is the foundation of a quality assurance scheme for criminal legal assistance.

It is one means by which SLAB, representing the public interest, shapes the way in which solicitors providing publicly funded criminal legal services deliver criminal legal assistance to the people of Scotland, by establishing and clarifying the appropriate criteria for service delivery and conduct.

We consider that the essentials of the Code are:

Compliance with the Code assists SLAB and solicitors delivering publically funded criminal legal assistance to demonstrate that a cost-effective and quality assured service is being provided to the people of Scotland.

It also assists in ensuring that the delivery of criminal legal assistance makes a material contribution to the effective and efficient operation of the courts and wider justice system in Scotland.

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