National sources of legal advice and information:
An experienced group of human rights lawyers, working particularly in the areas of migrant, refugee, women and children’s rights. Referral form available on their website.
Law Society of Scotland – Find a solicitor
Search this database to find contact details of law firms throughout Scotland.
Legal Services Agency
A law centre and charity which provides legal advice, assistance and representation to disadvantaged people and those who would otherwise find it difficult to get legal advice.
Scottish Child Law Centre
Free expert legal advice and information for children and young people, their families and carers, and professionals working for and with children, through an advice line, email and website.
Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
Promotes and protects human rights for everyone in Scotland. The Commission has powers to recommend changes to law, policy and practice; promote human rights through education, training and publishing research; and to conduct inquiries into the policies and practices of Scottish public authorities. The Scottish Human Rights Commission does not handle individual complaints because the law that governs their work prohibits them from giving advice or assistance on individual legal claims or potential legal proceedings.
Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland
A GB-wide equality body and recognised as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) by the United Nations. It has a statutory role to safeguard and enforce equality and human rights laws to protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect. Read more about their role here.
Children and Young People Commissioner Scotland
Children, young people and those concerned about them can contact the Commissioner’s office for advice and information around rights and to tell the Commissioner about any alleged violation of rights. The Commissioner has powers to investigate whether service providers have failed to protect the rights, interests and views of a child or children. He can also take action in other ways such as policy work, research or strategic litigation.
Can give confidential advice to people with all kinds of housing problems including homelessness, renting rights, eviction, repairs and bad conditions, neighbourhood issues, complaints and court action and disability rights.
Legal and advocacy service for children and young people. Provide free, confidential legal advice and representation in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Glasgow, and can provide information about children’s rights and training. Also coordinate a Children’s Rights Strategic Litigation Group which meets periodically as a forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration on using the law to further children's rights in Scotland.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Scotland’s largest independent advice network. Can provide advice around benefits, debt, immigration, family, housing, law and courts, work, and consumer rights.
Equality and Advisory Support Service
The Helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights. They can also accept referrals from organisations which, due to capacity or funding issues, are unable to provide 'in depth help and support' to local users of their services.
Ethnic Minorities Law Centre
Provides legal advice and representation to individuals from Scotland's ethnic minority communities.
Faculty of Advocates Free Legal Services Unit
The Faculty of Advocates facilitates the provision of advice and representation by Advocates free of charge in deserving cases for which no form of funding is available. Cases may be referred to the Unit from accredited advice agencies – the list of these agencies is available here.
Local sources of legal advice and information:
Aberdeen Law Project
Student legal project which can undertake legal research, write letters, provide legal opinions, legal training for NGOs, attend mediations, negotiate settlements and, if necessary, appear in Court.
South-East Glasgow Law and Money Advice Centres
Voluntary organisation providing free advice and legal representation service, with 7 local advice centres.
Edinburgh Napier Law Clinic
A voluntary organisation established and run by law students from Edinburgh Napier University aiming to provide free legal advice and assistance in areas of employment, housing and consumer contract law.
Fife Law Centre
Working for equality and justice in Fife. Offers a range of advice and representation for those who have difficulty accessing legal services.
The Law Clinic: Glasgow Caledonian University
Law student volunteers provide free and confidential legal advice and assistance to individuals within the Greater Glasgow community who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford professional legal advice. Specialise in housing, employment, contract and sports law, but can also provide assistance with other areas of law excluding criminal, family and immigration law.
Govan Law Centre
Free legal resource providing advice and representation. Particular projects around homelessness, education law, family support, and Govanhill Law Centre.
The Law Clinic at Robert Gordon University
A student-based law clinic that provides advice in a range of areas including housing, debt, benefits, employment and consumer rights.
Civil Legal Assistance Office (CLAO)
Provides help to clients with civil legal problems from offices in Oban, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The Civil Legal Assistance Office (CLAO) staff are employed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Scottish Government agrees on the kind of service they deliver.
The University of Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre
Student-led clinic offering free legal advice on wide range of issues.
University of Strathclyde Law Clinic
Student-led clinic providing free evening legal advice clinics, and online advice available here.
Complaints and regulatory bodies:
The Care Inspectorate inspects care services across Scotland to ensure they meet high standards. Where they find that care is not good enough, they work with the care services to make improvements. You can find details for how to complain to the Care Inspectorate here.
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
The final stage for complaints about councils, the National Health Service, housing associations, colleges and universities, prisons, most water providers, the Scottish Government and its agencies and departments and most Scottish authorities. Details about how to make a complaint are here.
Scottish Information Commissioner
Promotes and enforces both the public's right to ask for information held by Scottish public authorities and good practice by authorities. Provides information about Freedom of Information rights. Individuals have rights to request certain information from public bodies. If this is not provided, they can request a review from the authority. If they are still not satisfied with the response, they can ask the Commissioner to investigate -see details here.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Responsible for considering complaints relating to UK Government departments and agencies (though the health service aspect of this ombudsman’s jurisdiction applies to England only). Can consider complaints only if they come via an MP. Individuals can complete a complaint form & ask their MP to sign it, or take their complaint to their MP – see details here.
Police Investigations and Review Commissioner for Scotland (PIRC)
Investigates incidents involving the police and independently reviews the way the police handle complaints from the public. Individuals must first make a complaint to Police Scotland. If they are then not satisfied with Police Scotland’s response, they can complaint to PIRC -see details of how to do so here.