Legal revolution

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Another day that shook the world: the Edinburgh Bar Association now supports the legal fraternity’s revolution (your report, 15 December).

Inflated by a sense of their own importance, and consequently affronted by the prospect of collecting legal aid 
contributions (as stipulated by Scottish Legal Aid Board) from clients charged under summary procedure, Scotland’s lawyers are now flailing, floundering and flapping in a storm of petulant pique. After years of burdening the Legal Aid Board (and the taxpayer) with grossly inflated fees, the legal fraternity now interprets the board’s stipulation as an attack on access to justice and is using that pretext to justify its “revolution”.

What has been omitted from the rhetoric is any mention of the real barriers to access to justice: woeful representation; dismal advocacy; colossal costs; Ice Age rules of court; restrictive practices (the laity is not allowed to employ the “services” of an advocate directly – a solicitor must be instructed for that task); and, of course, the precedent established in 1876 by the Court of Session, which declared lawyers could not be held accountable for their negligence in court, or for the preparatory work that paved the way for that negligence. Surprisingly, those barriers to justice never feature in the demonstrations and the placards deployed by the legal fraternity in its revolt against the state.

Thomas Crooks

Dundas Street