Legal aid for Scottish staff at tribunals

The
Scottish Executive is to grant legal aid for employees to hire solicitors to
represent them in employment tribunal cases.

The
provisions are expected to come into force on 15 January in Scotland, but will
not apply in England or Wales.

It is
expected that the move will lead to a considerable increase in the numbers of
cases being brought by employees over issues such as wrongful dismissal, sex
discrimination and race discrimination.

The CBI in
Scotland called the decision “a chancer’s charter”.

CBI
Scotland’s Allan Hogarth said, “It will only encourage more spurious tribunal
cases. If this only applies in Scotland it will put us at a huge disadvantage
compared to businesses down south. This is another reason why many companies
may decide not to come to Scotland.”

However
the move has been seen by lawyers as a pre-emptive strike against potential
challenges under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Lawyers
state that the current tribunal system is itself in breach of Article 6 of
ECHR, which entitles everyone to a fair hearing and representation at that
hearing.

l Serious
disruption to council services across Scotland is set to continue after the
latest round of talks aimed at resolving the pay dispute ended without
agreement last week. The number of staff on strike is now 1,300.

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