Legal access

Elizabeth Davidson’s analysis (30 July) of how clients in England benefit (through lower costs) from direct access to a barrister starkly exposes the ludic-rous system that prevails in Scotland. Here (apart from those on the list of authorised professionals), clients cannot facilitate access to a QC without employing the very expensive “expertise” of a solicitor to obtain the opinion of the QC as to the merits of prospective litigation. This nonsense, inter alia, ensures that the final costs of any litigation are colossal.

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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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.


Dundas Street