LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Scotland’s legal aid bill has risen to more than £150m after a surge in expensive criminal cases, a new report revealed yesterday.
The annual report from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Slab) found that the total cost to the taxpayer of providing legal aid to help people on low incomes access the courts was £150.2m last year – the second-highest level ever.
Most of the rising cost was caused by more and more expensive, criminal prosecutions leading to record numbers of criminal legal aid grants, pushing the criminal aid bill up by 3% to £106.6m.
The highest-paid advocate for the second year running was the renowned defence counsel Donald Findlay, QC, who received £358,400 in legal aid payments.
In the list of the top-earning solicitors’ firms, Glasgow-based Ross Harper Solicitors held on to the number one spot from last year, bringing in just over £1.7m.
Legal aid for civil cases also rose for the first time in three years, costing the public purse £39m while a further £4.5m went on children’s legal assistance and contempt of court proceedings.