In Scotland, even straightforward civil actions processed through the Court of Session almost invariably involve the deployment of six lawyers: a QC, junior counsel and a solicitor to represent the pursuer and the defender. Consequently, the legal costs incurred to obtain “access to justice” are astronomical and successful clients are often left with a pittance in compensation and a startling legal bill.
Elizabeth Davidson’s scrutiny of how direct access benefits clients by substantially reducing costs exposes our legal system to ridicule. Thanks to the pomposity that seems to animate the mind set of the Faculty of Advocates, the laity cannot directly access the services of a QC. Like minor deities, Scotland’s advocates function in a bubble of inflated self-importance that is now a major barrier to access to justice.
Until the Faculty of Advocates agrees or is forced to facilitate direct access to advocates, access to justice will remain what it has always been for the majority of the laity – a shimmering mirage.