Health boards in Scotland should brace themselves for more employment tribunal claims - and more successful ones.

The Scottish Executive has decided to make legal aid available for tribunals in the more complex cases.

The decision is yet another unexpected result of the Human Rights Act, which made the European Convention on Human Rights part of UK law from last October.

The Executive's hand was forced by solicitors, who threatened to challenge the nonavailability of legal aid as a breach of the right to a fair trial.

There would be no 'equality of arms', they argued, if the employer had legal representation while the employee had to go it alone.

But it is by no means certain, looking at the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, that the challenge would have succeeded, and the Lord Chancellor's Department insists there are no plans to introduce a similar change for England and Wales.

But the government is at last planning reforms to the law and practice in equal pay cases - and not before time. So complex is the procedure for claiming equal pay for work of equal value that it took 14 years to determine NHS speech therapists' claim for the same pay scales as pharmacists and psychologists.