Law society warns of rise in miscarriages of justice as not proven scrapped

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Legal professionals in Scotland say scrapping the not proven verdict could see a rise in miscarriages of justice.

The Law Society of Scotland said it is “deeply concerned” about Tuesday’s announcement.

Nicola Sturgeon told the chamber: “If approved by Parliament, this will be a change of truly historic significance in Scotland, and one firmly intended to improve access to justice for victims of crime.”

But Murray Etherington, president of the society, said making such a “fundamental change” must be done with the “upmost care and consideration” for the wider implications.

He said: “It is in the interests of every citizen that we have a fair, just and accessible criminal justice system for all those involved.

“We are surprised and disappointed by the omission of a Legal Aid Bill in the Government’s legislative programme.

“Set against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, ensuring that those most in need can access legal support irrespective of their financial situation is more important now than ever.”

According to the society, talks on the issue are ongoing.

The Law Society also said it is “pleased” the Scottish Government is proposing a new Bill to reform legal services regulation.

Mr Etherington said: “Much of the current legislation is over 40 years old and is simply unfit for Scotland’s modern legal sector and the international market in which it now competes.

“The system for handling legal complaints in particular is too slow, too complex, too expensive and needs urgent overhaul.

“This new legislation provides an opportunity to make real improvements which better protect the consumers and also allows the legal profession to thrive.”