Scotland: quarrels over the effectiveness and efficiency of the public defender program

February 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

Recent row between the Scottish Law Society’s Access for Justice Committee and the Scottish Legal Aid Board is a good example of the softness of the arguments pro and against the different modes of delivery of legal aid. First, in an unpublished paper of  the Law Society of Scotland alleges that “In summary criminal cases we estimate that the PDSO is twice as expensive as private practitioners, and in duty solicitor cases, more than 10 times as expensive.” Moreover, the paper claims that public defenders are 50% more likely to enter a guilty plea for their clients than the private lawyers.

In turn, the Scottish Legal Aid Board repudiated the main claims of the report. Its spokesperson alleged that the paper is “misleading and appears to be based on a number of flawed assumptions”.  The board argues both the cost and quality arguments against the public defenders scheme.  Herald Tribune reports that the Board’s stance on the plea bargaining issue is that “[the Board] believed final conviction rates for its public defence lawyers were around the same as those in the rest of the justice system at about 83% to 87%.”

Read more here

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Entry filed under: Access to Justice, Legal Aid, Scotland, UK.

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