No legal aid in arbitration “limits choice”, MSPs hear

06 Feb


THE lack of legal aid for arbitration has been raised with MSPs by the Vice-Dean of Faculty, Angela Grahame, QC.

A number of witnesses gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee which was examining the availability of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Scotland and barriers to its use.

The issue of funding was raised, and Ms Grahame said there was no funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) for arbitration, which limited the choice of parties.

She told the committee that a meeting between the Faculty’s dedicated arbitration group, FOA Arbitration, and SLAB to explore the situation was to take place soon.

“There is no doubt the lack of legal aid funding for arbitration does limit the choice of parties, who are pushed towards litigation if they cannot resolve their disputes through mediation,” she said.

Ms Grahame said the Faculty had a strong interest in litigation, and it was important that litigation should not be excluded from the options in dispute resolution. It was “a fundamental and important part of the package of methods available to clients”, she added.

“If ‘dispute resolution’ is the umbrella term, then under that umbrella there are various methods of resolving disputes, including litigation, arbitration and mediation. They are all options for individual clients, and the decision on which is the best method to use to resolve the dispute should be carefully considered with each individual client, and tailored to their needs.

“It is important for each individual to consider all options and to make an informed decision about what the best option is for them. The key is education and raising awareness and allowing people to find that information.”

Ms Grahame said FOA Arbitration was training large numbers of advocates in this area and they could give very detailed advice to clients.

FOA Arbitration was also keen to promote ICCA 2020 in Edinburgh, the Congress of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration  - “the arbitration world’s equivalent of the Olympics”.

Ms Grahame said: “It is an amazing opportunity for Scotland to showcase our talents in relation to arbitration. All eyes will be on Edinburgh…the profile of arbitration will be raised.”

Written evidence from FOA Arbitration is here

Watch the evidence session at