THE legal fees of £330,000 paid out by Strathclyde Police to defend officers in criminal cases seem hefty and should, at the very least, be looked at ("Legal fees for defending police soar by £330,00", The Herald, December 31).
However, in terms of costs to the taxpayer, the figure pales into relative insignificance beside the £33m spent by councils in Scotland during the past five years in settling 13,000 compensation claims ("Scottish councils pay out £33m in damages", The Herald, December 26).
Most of these claims were no doubt personal injury cases. The time has surely come when the burgeoning and lucrative compensation culture should be reined in. Ways in which this might be done could include a set tariff of awards and lawyers' fees for particular injuries, particularly for less serious injuries (that is, injuries currently attracting compensation awards of less than £50,000).
Another measure would be to make sure that relatively low-value injury claims are not allowed to be litigated in the Court of Session rather than in the somewhat cheaper sheriff courts. Recommendations, which are now several years old, to transfer low-value compensation claims to the lower courts have still not been practically implemented, though a committee/ council has been set up to discuss implementation of the idea.
Above all, some would assert that the best avenue towards trimming Scotland's overblown compensation landscape is, first, to restrict lawyers' fees for settling such cases (giving them a fair but not excessive return for work done), and secondly, to try to reduce the influence of the compensation lawyer lobby on politicians, Holyrood legislation and on the Law Society of Scotland itself .
Gus Logan, WS,
24 Coates Gardens
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