Legal aid changes ‘will cost lawyers £3.1m’

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LAWYERS stand to lose £3.1 million a year if proposed changes to legal aid are driven through, a think-tank has warned.

Front Line Policy, based in Edinburgh, says Ministry of Justice research of English cases suggests just 20 per cent of contributions are recovered.

The Scottish Government proposals have infuriated lawyers – who want the Scottish Legal Aid Board to be responsible for collecting fees – and have threatened to take industrial action in protest.

Mark Harrower, the vice-president of the Edinburgh Bar Association, said: “Whoever collection of contributions falls to will encounter significant difficulties in recovering more than a fraction of the total amount due. This will represent a significant loss in income.”

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: “We don’t recognise these figures and the comparison with England is completely misleading.

“We are proposing that solicitors, not a collection agency, are best placed to recover these fees direct from clients, so suggesting this argument applies to the Scottish proposals is also misleading.”