pounds 15m for Maxwell legal aid

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The Independent Online
The legal aid bill for defence lawyers in the Maxwell fraud trial totalled pounds 14-15m, it was revealed yesterday. Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, gave the figures as he defended government plans to cap the legal aid fees paid in big criminal trials.

Lord Irvine, giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said that just 1 per cent of cases accounted for 40 per cent of the criminal legal aid paid out in the Crown Courts.

"These are very big figures indeed. The very, very high fees that in some cases are charged - I think there is a very powerful argument that we move in certain categories to fixed price contracting." However, he acknowledged the Government could not force any lawyer to work for fees they considered unacceptable.