Detention without access to a solicitor maybe modified

By Elizabeth Ting

The Scottish Supreme Court rule refusal will allow the suspects to have access to a solicitor in police interviews.

Question suspects

In the past over 25 years in Scotland, suspects had no rights to apply for lawyers when detained, which was incompatible with law in England and in most of the European countries.

In the judgment of Cadder v HMA, the case relates to whether an accused person should have access to legal advice where they are detained by the police for questioning, published on 26 October 2010, the Supreme Court decided this practice was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2005, the report of The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), emphasized the importance of suspects having access to a lawyer from the very outset of their detention. The Supreme Court and police simply ignored the recommendations and became overly dependent on confession evidence.

“As a Scottish lawyer I am proud of many aspects of our system but this anomaly was not one of them.” said by John Scott, a solicitor advocate and the vice-president(crime) of the Society of solicitor advocates. According to Mr Scott, the appeal court in Scotland missed a final opportunity at the end of 2009 to address the problem. That will have to change.

“It is a significant moment for fairness in the Scottish criminal justice system that a detained person can now receive the advice of a solicitor and be represented in police interviews as a result of the Guidelines.” according to the responses of JUSTICE.

However, Alan Miller, chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, fears there are legal loopholes and elements open to interpretation, which could expose Scots Law to further challenges in the Supreme Court. “If the legislation allows access to a lawyer to be diluted to a telephone call, especially in circumstances where the lawyer may not have adequate information about the circumstances, that may give rise to a challenge.” he said.