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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Executive sparks legal fees row
Courtroom
The Glasgow Bar Association highlighted the disparity in fees
Solicitors who work for the Scottish Executive are being paid more than three times the legal aid rate, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Lawyers who have been fighting for an increase in fees said it showed there was a two-tier system of justice.

The Glasgow Bar Association said ministers cannot argue that legal costs must be controlled when public funds are being used to pay higher rates.

Ministers recently increased legal aid fees by between eight and 12%.

Lawyers have said that the increase has not come into effect.

'Public outcry'

They said they are paid just under 50 an hour when handling even the most serious cases, such as murder or terrorism.

Scotland's most senior law officer, the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, revealed that lawyers commissioned by the executive received up to 180 an hour.

Non-qualified paralegals are paid an hourly rate of 78.

Gerry Considine, Vice-President of the Glasgow Bar Association, said: "I wonder what the public outcry would be if government doctors were paid 350% more than the other NHS doctors."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "Ministers wish to put in place systems of fair reward for work necessarily done, having due regard to value for money.

"It is meaningless to extrapolate an hourly rate from the block system of solemn criminal legal aid fees - a system that encourages and rewards efficiency in the work of solicitors."


SEE ALSO
Agreement reached in fees dispute
07 Aug 06 |  Scotland
Family lawyers back legal dispute
13 Jun 06 |  Scotland
Legal aid fee dispute escalates
26 May 06 |  Scotland

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