Law Society goes it alone on standard fee research

The Government's refusal to conduct “essential” research into standard fees for family law cases has forced the Law Society to hunt out its own data.

The Law Society is fiercely critical of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine's decision to introduce standard fees for all family law related cases in January 2000 without conducting new research.

The Law Society's head of solicitor remuneration, David Hartley, says: “We are doing this research as the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) was not willing to undertake any further research of this sort, although the original survey was done in 1995 and things have changed a lot since.”

Hartley slates the original LCD research as “fundamentally flawed”.

The Law Society is surveying 1,700 solicitors who take public law children's cases such as childcare and adoption, and 110 firms with legal aid franchises for family law work on ancillary relief, domestic violence and private law children's cases.

Hartley says the surveys examine the costs of the cases, the number of court hearings, and the stage at which they conclude. The results are due later this month.

An LCD spokesman says: “We are still in negotiation with the Law Society and Bar Council on this issue.

“The 1995 research report has been helpful but is not the only basis for the work currently being done.”

Standard fees already operate for solicitors who undertake criminal magistrates court work and criminal court preparation work.