WE'RE SKINT M'LUD; Legal Aid Lawyers Face Bankruptcy

Article excerpt

SCOTLAND'S High Court system is on the brink of collapse because a bureaucratic blunder has left many top lawyers facing bankruptcy.

Over 300 arrestment orders - a device which allows debtors to claim cash - have been issued to advocates.

The hard-up lawyers are unable to pay mortgages, car loans and other commitments because they have not received their legal aid fees.

The scandal strikes at the heart of Scots justice as many affected advocates are now threatening to withdraw from legal aid work, which would cripple the High Court system.

Advocates, who along with some specially accredited solicitors, are the only lawyers allowed to address the High Court, say they cannot afford to do legal aid work.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board said last night that it has taken steps to avoid the crisis in payments and that it should all be resolved by mid-November.

But by that time some advocates could face ruin and bankruptcy.

It is understood hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid bills have triggered the crisis. …