MONTREAL -- Quebec and the provincial bar association have agreed to raise legal aid fees - a dispute that dates back several years.

It took three years of negotiations to achieve the agreement, which Minister of Justice and Attorney General Simon Jolin-Barrette and bar chaiman Paul-Mattieu Grondin announced Friday.

The agreement stipulates that 5 per cent will be paid retroactivity for legal aid mandates accepted between Oct. 2017 and May 2019.

The new rates will apply from June 2019 to Sept. 2022. They vary by area.

Overall, the fee increase is around 14.7 per cent, which represents $35 million, the justice department said.

In reality, legal aid rates were so low that few lawyers in private practice were interested in accepting a file. The increased fees will, therefore, increase access to justice for the most disadvantaged, according to Jolin-Barrette.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.