£1.8m for legal aid lawyers

LAWYERS handling the most serious legal aid cases will share about £1.8 million in extra fees each year, it was announced yesterday.

Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, told a conference in Dunblane that the 7 per cent increase in funding was intended to "ensure solicitors are paid appropriately and fairly for the work they do".

Regulations to implement change to fees for solemn criminal cases are now due to be brought in next April.

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Taken alongside previous increases, it represents an overall rise in fee levels of 25 per cent since the new system of fees was introduced in 1992.

Oliver Adair, convener of the Law Society of Scotland's Legal Aid (Solicitors) Committee, said the boost was particularly welcome considering it comes "in a year of restricted public spending".

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