Concerns for courts

Law Society of Scotland pres-
ident Austin Lafferty met Stran­raer solicitors on Wednesday to discuss issues including the possibility of jury trials being moved away from Stranraer and Dumfries Sheriff Courts to Ayr.

Afterwards, Mr Lafferty said he had been delighted to meet the Wigtown District Faculty and took on board their views about the Scottish government’s cost-cutting proposals.

He said: “There is a need to address the challenges we face. Taking jury work away to Ayr would be a big challenge. In the Society we accept there are some malfunctions in the overall court process and the government is looking at that.

“But local solicitors don’t want change. There are excellent solicitors in Stranraer who are experienced at this type of work. If that work goes up the road people will think ‘I’d better get an Ayr lawyer’ if the trial is in Ayr, and that wealth of experience would be lost. You can’t artificially create centres of excellence. That’s not good for anyone and it’s not good for justice.

“We are not at a point where 
we are suggesting the govern­ment is railroading anything through. The faculty is only now gearing up to take part in the consultation process. But the courts recognise this is the next big ticket for us.

“The Law Society understands the issues and we have entered into detailed correspondence with the government.

“It’s pointless for the govern­ment to save money centralising courts but then spend more money getting people to the courts for the trials.”