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New fees on the block

12 February 07

Regulations have been signed by Scottish Ministers making important changes to civil legal aid block fees

Following discussions between the Society, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Scottish Executive, regulations have now been signed by Scottish Ministers which make important changes to the operation of block fees.

SLAB estimates that these changes, which will come into force on 10 February 2007, will add approximately £1m in fees to solicitors per year.

Among other provisions, these regulations will bring:

  • a 21% increase in respect of fees for summary cause proceedings;
  • provision for payment in cases where the matter is disposed of or resolved without an action being raised;
  • an increase in the number of units payable in undefended actions of divorce or separation and aliment where proof is by means of affidavits;
  • changes to the defended instruction fee 1(b) to provide for payment of the higher instruction fee in cases where the court does not always fix a procedural timetable for the lodging of defences;
  • changes to the progress fee(s) to cater for cases where – following an options hearing – the court, for the purposes of settlement, fixes a diet other than a diet of proof or debate, and provision for payment in certain circumstances where no settlement was achieved but the solicitor can demonstrate that an exercise of sustained negotiation has taken place;
  • payment of all travel time and outlays where the 20-mile threshold distance is exceeded.
  • New fees will also be introduced:
  • to cover all work for the preparation and attendance at any continued options hearing;
  • in cases which involve complex financial disputes, or complex pension sharing arrangements, and for contentious contact disputes;
  • for all work in connection with a peremptory diet (excluding court work which will be paid separately).

All civil legal aid practitioners will receive a more detailed breakdown of the regulations from SLAB directly. If members of the profession have any questions, please write to Katie Hay (katiehay@lawscot.org.uk) in the first instance.