THE Law Society of Scotland is to review a controversial rule that allows solicitors to keep interest accrued while they deal with inheritance money, following a campaign by a bereaved family.

Jim Clarke, of Ayr, initially had his concerns over the practice that lets firms retain the interest on monies they handle rejected by the Law Society and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, but has now won an examination of the process. While guidelines south of the Border, where a separate system is in place, suggest there should be a £20 ceiling on interest to pay for administration costs, legal firms in Scotland are entitled to hold on to interest on estates' investments if the payback amounts to less than £100.

The professional body for lawyers says the sums help cover administration and other costs involved in setting up an account for money left behind by a death.

Mr Clarke is convinced the rule could encourage unscrupulous solicitors to use it for their own gain. The Society will now launch a consultation that will include external input.

Mr Clarke said yesterday: "It's great news that they are to review the practice. At one time they weren't interested and weren't going to look at it. We will now have to monitor the process to make sure they take it forward."

Chartered accountant Mr Clarke, 69, a former chairman of the Scottish Local Authorities Chief Internal Auditors Group, started his campaign after dealing with the estate of his mother Agnes, of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, who died last year.

Mr Clark, whose case was taken up by the SNP's South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine, believes people are unlikely to scrutinise such transactions when they have lost a loved one and do not realise they could be losing out.

Ms McAlpine said she would "continue to press to get this unfair rule changed". She said: "I welcome the fact that the Law Society of Scotland is giving further consideration to the important points raised by my constituent and I await with interest a more substantive response in the near future.

"I cannot think of any other instance where a financial services provider can legitimately conceal where a client's money is deposited, and refuse to reveal such details even when pressed."

Ms McAlpine also raised concerns over transparency and added: "Even if most people were in the fortunate position of the Law Society, in being able to wave away £100 as a trifling sum, other aspects of this rule should give serious cause for concern."

A spokesman for the Law Society of Scotland said: "The society has been in direct contact with Ms McAlpine to say that the current client interest threshold is being considered further and that we will be consulting externally as part of the review. We have confirmed that a full response on the issue will be prepared once this work is concluded."

He added: "There is nothing in the Law Society's rules that would require a solicitor not to disclose where client accounts are held."