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EBA withdraw from Extradition Duty

EDINBURGH BAR ASSOCIATION

STATEMENT REGARDING WITHDRAWAL FROM THE EXTRADITION DUTY SCHEME

As is now well documented, over the last 12 months the Edinburgh Bar Association has been conducting a review of its capacity in light of an alarming reduction in the number of solicitors registered to provide criminal Legal Assistance which this jurisdiction has witnessed in recent years. As a result of that review, our members have already withdrawn from the police station and Justice of the Peace Court duty schemes. This week, our members decided that they are no longer able to service the extradition duty scheme and their withdrawals from that rota will now be intimated to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

The extradition court is a national court but is one which sits only at Edinburgh. Since its inception, a dedicated group of Edinburgh criminal solicitors with an expertise in extradition law has developed. They are paid at rates set in 1992 for all work with the exception of travel – something which a lawyer has no control over – which is paid at half the rate set 27 years ago.

It is imperative that those facing extradition proceedings are represented by an independent and skilled advocate who is able to understand the considerable nuances presented by that field of law. Often those people face return to court proceedings in countries where the criminal justice system does not conform to the norms which we expect of our own. It is a matter of profound regret that our members have reached a point at which the continued service of the duty scheme is impossible. That this point has been reached is the inevitable consequence of the refusal of the Scottish Government to fund the system of criminal Legal Aid adequately.

It is hoped that the withdrawal which we are now announcing will go some way to alleviating the pressures which continue to mount on criminal solicitors in Edinburgh. However, we will continue to monitor our position closely and frequently in order to see whether there are further measures which require to be taken.

16 January, 2019

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