COP26: Falkirk bar association opts out of duty solicitor scheme

Falkirk’s bar association has opted out of a duty solicitor scheme ahead of the COP26 summit due to a dispute over the treatment of defence lawyers.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:45 pm

Members of Scotland’s three principal bar associations – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – have also voted not to participate.

World leaders will gather in Glasgow for the climate change conference from October 31 until November 12.

Fiona McKinnon, president of the Glasgow Bar Association, wrote to Justice Secretary Keith Brown, as well as legal affairs minister Ash Denham and Colin Lancaster, chief executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, to confirm the GBA’s boycott of the scheme and weekend courts running in Glasgow.

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Police carry out security checks at the SEC Campus ahead of COP26. Picture: John Devlin.

She said the Scottish Government had failed to detail the plan for non-COP26 cases that will call during the three weekend courts, adding: “Neither the Scottish Government representatives, nor the relevant department at SLAB, have responded and confirmed a proposal.”

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Ms McKinnon also referred to the state of the defence profession in Scotland.

She wrote: “Legal aid practitioners are under pressure as they have been at no time before in living memory.

“Pay disparity with our justice partners means we are unable to train and retain staff who are leaving us to better terms and conditions and sometimes double their salary in equivalent roles in COPFS and Scottish Government departments.

“Your recent employment drives typify the disparity. Unless urgent action is taken, there will be a lack of gender equality, racial diversity and age diversity in the profession and the ageing population of criminal defence practitioners will not be replaced.

“Your own figures illustrate this. We are a declining population of practitioners.”

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