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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Agreement reached in fees dispute
Lawyer's desk
Lawyers rejected an initial offer from the Scottish Executive
Lawyers have lifted their threat of a boycott of complex cases in a lengthy dispute over legal aid fees.

An emergency meeting of the council of the Law Society of Scotland has voted to accept a revised offer from the Scottish Executive.

It means an increase in fees of up to 12%. Solicitors get 63 an hour for handling serious cases, a fee which has risen once in the past 14 years.

Cases involving sex offenders were among those due to be hit by action.

Solicitors had been offered 8% for court work and 5% for other work and this was backdated to 1 December, 2005.

However, last month Deputy Justice Minister High Henry revised this and offered 8% and 12% respectively.

'Renewed commitment'

Although a number of lawyers described that as "derisory", it has been accepted by the ruling body of the profession.

Negotiations will now take place over a new scale of fees for lawyers handling less serious cases in the sheriff and district courts.

Oliver Adair, convener of the Legal Aid (Solicitor's) Committee, said: "I consider that the amended offer reflects a renewed commitment by the Scottish Executive to fair remuneration."

Scotland's biggest group of defence lawyers, the Glasgow Bar Association, was one of the bodies threatening action.

The action had been due to begin on 1 August but was suspended for a month so talks could be held on reaching a deal.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said it welcomed the decision of the Law Society.

She added: "This was a generous and considered offer from the deputy justice minister at a time of great pressure on the public purse.

"We hope that this will lead to the removal of any local threats to disrupt court business."

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