Law Soc's legal aid plan based on case strength

THE LAW Society has come up with a plan for a self-financing legal aid fund which it believes meets the Government's objections to the Bar Council's proposals for a Contingency Legal Aid Fund.

The proposals are to be unveiled by the Law Society this Tuesday and have already been submitted to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine.

The Law Society refused to give details of the plans to The Lawyer as it went to press, but it is understood that the society has refined earlier proposals to combine the conditional fees principle with the idea of a self-financing fund.

Under the Bar Council's plans, legal-aided clients would receive money from the fund and then pay a fixed proportion of their damages back into it if their case succeeded.

The Law Society wants successful clients to pay a success fee back into the fund which would be based on the strength of their case at the outset of the case.

It hopes this will meet the Government's objections to the concept of a self-financing fund.

Lord Irvine has suggested the Bar's proposal would not be viable because it would attract only those litigants with the weakest cases, as those with stronger cases would prefer to protect their damages by using a traditional conditional fee agreement to fund their case.