Strategic Aim 6: Establishing effective oversight
The report reflects on the lack of flexibility within the current legislative structure, and how this inflexibility is hampering the performance of the system and those who support its delivery. This strategic aim recommends a new statutory framework for a new, reformed, legal aid service. It seeks a framework that allows for flexibility to adapt, and to refocus on the citizens rather than the providers of services.
The report also recommends the establishment of a new public delivery body which would be granted new powers under the new statutory framework and be tasked with greater responsibility to deliver a service that was more able to adapt to emerging needs of citizens and changes in the civic, legal and justice landscapes. It sets out a number of recommendations on how this new body – an “independent public interest body” would be responsible for the delivery of publicly funded legal assistance in a strategic and effective way and would facilitate greater flexibility for the delivery of publicly funded legal assistance policy.
The Scottish Government appreciates the thinking behind this recommendation but is not minded to abolish one public body and set up another. This would draw on resources and funding that would be best directed towards reforming the legal aid system into an integrated public service. The same end could be achieved by restructuring the legislative framework within which the Scottish Legal Aid Board currently operates, providing it with the flexibility, powers and responsibilities that will enable it to deliver a reformed legal aid service.
Any changes to these powers will depend on the eventual design of the new legal aid service, and again this will be subject to public consultation.
Email: Shona Urquhart