Thousands of people in Scotland’s most deprived communities are facing a chronic shortage of civil legal aid firms, lawyers have warned.
The Law Society of Scotland said the 100,000 people living in the most deprived communities had access to just 29 civil legal aid firms.
Legal aid for civil court actions is only offered to people with a disposable income of less than £293 per month.
The Law Society, which represents the legal profession, said many people in these communities will be forced to represent themselves in divorce proceedings, child custody hearings and immigration hearings.
It has long argued that the Scottish Government’s funding for legal aid is insufficient, and law society president Murray Etherington said the system was in “crisis” in July.
The Law Society has teamed up with author and commentator, Darren McGarvey, to campaign for improvements in legal aid provision in deprived communities.
Mr McGarvey, author of Poverty Safari, said: “Just imagine standing in a courtroom on your own to argue your case, up against an experienced solicitor. Now imagine that the custody of your child is at stake.
“Or a life-changing payout after an industrial accident.
“The absurdity of that proposition, combined with inequalities within the justice, healthcare, and education systems, is exactly why I am supporting the Law Society of Scotland to highlight the real issues that real people in Scotland face. Something has to change.”
He continued: “Those who are already most disadvantaged are having their last line of defence pulled away from them.
“The Scottish Government has let inflation quietly chip away at legal aid fees over the last two decades – now we need to catch up.”