Monitoring the availability and accessibility of legal services
The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 gave SLAB the function of monitoring the availability and accessibility of legal services in Scotland, with reference to relevant factors relating to urban and rural areas.
SLAB has arrangements in place to monitor legal services by:
- Analysing the organisation’s data on trends in legal assistance and supply
- Supplementing this with other sources of data about legal services including information that may be requested of the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service;
- Seeking the views of stakeholders, including service providers and users.
- Where possible, in order to gain insight into access to legal services, SLAB will convene groups of specialist organisations with specific interests and expertise in the topics being assessed for discussion.
The topics chosen for assessment under monitoring duty are based on identifying those areas of law which are either:
- anticipated to be at the potentially highest risk of problems; and/or
- those in which legal aid plays a substantial role; and/or
- directly relevant to the broader policy issues of the day, so as to maximise the relevance of SLAB’s monitoring work to a range of stakeholders.
Previous approach to monitoring
This is a new approach to how SLAB monitors legal services. In 2017, SLAB’s approach was updated to the model above, in order to ensure the maximum utility of SLAB’s monitoring work. A news item on this shift can be found here.
SLAB’s methods in preparing the first five monitoring reports previously included consultation with a more broad-ranging, fixed group of stakeholders (the Access to Justice Reference Group) and took a more over-arching rather than targeted approach to identifying the areas of law for assessment.
- The fifth monitoring report prepared by the organisation was published in 2017.
- Main areas of law covered: family law; human trafficking; actions against the police; debt collection; homelessness (follow up research); and legal services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- The third monitoring report prepared by the organisation was published in 2014. (PDF)(Word)
- Main areas of law covered: immigration; protective orders; homelessness; judicial review.
- The second monitoring report prepared by the organisation was published in 2013. (PDF)(Word)
- Main areas of law covered: repossession (owned and rented property); domestic abuse; mental health law; personal injury.
- The first monitoring report, prepared by SLAB in 2012, sets out in more detail what we are doing and the findings so far.
- Main areas of law covered: employment; welfare benefits; family.
For more information on this work please contact John Osborne, Policy Projects Manager, on 0131 240 1889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.