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Fixed fees for criminal legal aid work will be introduced in Scotland in the new year under proposals unveiled by the Scottish Office last week.
In summary cases, solicitors will receive a single fixed payment - provisionally set at #475 - to cover trial preparation, #100 for each of the first two days of a trial and #200 for each subsequent day.
Home Affairs Minister Henry McLeish said fees paid to solicitors in Scotland for summary cases had risen by 65 per cent over the last 10 years to #50m. He said the plan would save #10m per year.
Philip Dry, president of the Law Society of Scotland, attacked the plan.
He said: "In an adversarial system where the Government funds the prosecution, it is vital to have a properly funded, impartial, quality defence.
The Government must look to safeguarding the right to independent representation of choice rather than introducing quick-fix solutions which could deny that right."
A consultation period has been announced to discuss the new system and the level of the fixed fees. The deadline for submissions is 13 December.
Last month the Government launched a pilot public defender scheme in Edinburgh.