Views sought on developing user-centred system.
The public is being asked to give their views on how to ensure current legal aid provision meets the needs of modern Scotland.
Ministers want to ensure the system is user-focused, flexible and valued as a public service.
A consultation, based on recommendations from an independent review of legal aid and running until 19 September, will consider how the use of targeted interventions could remove the barriers some people may face in accessing legal aid.
The paper also asks whether the availability of funding should be extended to groups with a common interest in legal proceedings, such as Fatal Accident Inquiries.
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said:
“Our legal aid provision is world leading, however improvements to its structure and delivery are needed to further support access to justice in modern Scotland.
“We want a legal aid system that that is responsive and places the user firmly at the heart of the service.
“I encourage all those with an interest in this area to make their views known and look forward to a constructive debate on the future of legal aid provision in Scotland.”
Colin Lancaster, Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, said:
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s consultation and the opportunities it offers for discussion about the future shape of the legal aid system in Scotland.
“Legally aided services assist people at some of the most difficult times of their lives. This is a chance to consider important principles about how Scotland should deliver these services in the future.”
The Scottish Government’s consultation on legal aid reform is now open.
The Scottish Government’s response to the Independent review of legal aid in Scotland is available in full here.
Scotland’s legal aid spend per head is among the highest in the European Union and has both the widest scope and eligibility.
For civil legal aid the Ministry of Justice estimates 25% of the population of England and Wales are eligible within current scope. The Scottish Legal Aid Board estimates that 75% of Scotland’s population is financially eligible for civil legal aid.