The Law Society will pay out up to £100,000 to sick miners after their law firms provided inadequate professional services in relation to the British Coal compensation scheme.
The society has taken the extraordinary step after one or two solicitors firms deferred paying the miners until after their hearings before the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
Under the present rules awards only become enforceable after the matter has been referred to the SDT and the tribunal has ordered the solicitors to pay.
Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said: "While solicitors may argue at the SDT that the award is wrong, we’re concerned that miners should not be disadvantaged by the delay the hearing inevitably creates.
"We're conscious that most of those involved are elderly and infirm so the Law Society has decided to make the payment itself to shortcut the process."
Around 40 miners will each receive approximately £200, although this will vary depending on the claim.
The Law Society has laid down an initial budget of £30,000, which could rise to as much as £100,000.
The society is currently in talks with the Solicitors Regulation Authority as to how it will reap back the money from the firms. A Law Society spokesperson said: "It’s important to remember that we expect to recover the majority of those sums."
The news comes just days after The Lawyer revealed (2 July) that Law Society council member Glyn Maddock from Welsh firm Gabb and Co was fined £15,000 at the SDT and ordered to pay the costs, estimated to be £60,000