It was a sight to behold: hundreds of fearless freedom fighters (AKA lawyers) storming Scotland’s Bastille – our peculiar wee parliament.
Distressed by the prospect (as stipulated by the Scottish Legal Aid Board) of collecting Legal Aid contributions from clients in the context of summary procedure, our reluctant revolutionaries are taking to the streets; a strike is on the cards (your report, 14 November).
Serving justice is the root of the revolt. Austin Lafferty, president of the Law Society, opined: “We do an essential job.” Ann Ritchie, Glasgow Bar Association vice-president, said: “This is not about lawyers getting their fees, it’s about ensuring justice is accessible to all.”
Try as they might, the laity can find no trace of protest from the legal fraternity regarding the barrier to civil justice that inheres in the immunity granted to lawyers (Batchelor v Pattison, 1876) by the Court of Session.
Immunity applies to the lawyers’ performance in court and any preparatory work connected to that performance. Clearly, serving justice is a selective process. It’s naughty, but the context compels the question: if the Scottish Government and the Legal Aid Board decreed that lawyers would receive a bounty of 50 per cent of the Legal Aid contributions collected from clients under summary procedure, would there be a strike?