Through our engagement process, SLAB has identified opportunities to streamline, simplify and modernise the legal aid system. The streamlining programme will deliver further changes which will manage risks to the legal aid fund with reduced bureaucracy and benefits for solicitors, applicants and SLAB.
Project manager: John Osborne (email@example.com)
Streamlining is a long term project. It will identify process, regulatory or legislative changes to streamline and simplify the system. These will be grouped in short term changes which SLAB can effect, regulatory changes which the Scottish Government can implement in the short to medium term, or statutory change which can only be delivered in the longer term.
Simplified and streamlined processes must continue to deliver assurance that public funds are properly used for those people who are eligible and for cases that meet the tests set down by Parliament.
Progress and next steps
In 2015, the Scottish Government asked SLAB to carry out a review of legal assistance as part of its strategy for legal aid.
For this work we have had extensive collaboration with the legal profession and other interested parties such as Families Need Fathers and CALM to look at the options to streamline legal assistance.
We spoke to a broad cross section of firms of solicitors across Scotland and our discussions centred on a number of key areas.
Criminal and children’s legal assistance are within scope of the streamlining programme, but the initial focus and a lot of the discussion concerned civil legal assistance.
We explored ways to reduce the administrative burden for SLAB, solicitors and clients in dealing with legal assistance applications.
The six short-term changes we made following this engagement process can be viewed on our website in the updates section.
SLAB is now developing further options to streamline processes for solicitors and clients:
Changes to the nature and level of documentary financial evidence required for civil legal aid applicants.
Giving applicants the option of making the financial aspect of the civil legal aid application online.
Ensuring that the structure and format of current guidance for solicitors helps them submit the right information for applications and accounts first time
Piloting a change in processes for authorising post grant work to minimise the level of unnecessary interaction between solicitors and SLAB.
Date last updated: 27 January 2017