Flat buyers have to thank four legislators who changed their minds or were absent for the effective dropping last night of fixed legal fees for homes sales. Members at first agreed to keep the so-called scale fees by vetoing by 27 votes to 23 a section of the Legal Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 1996 which would have abolished the committee setting the fees. They then amended another provision which served a similar purpose. But the vote on an amendment preventing solicitors freely negotiating fees with property buyers was tied at 26 to 26. President Andrew Wong Wang-fat cast his deciding vote in favour of the Government's bill. That meant that although scale fees were not formally abolished, consumers can shop around for the best deal. Solicitors are now liable to disciplinary action if they try to negotiate property fees. The legislators who abstained on the scale fees section, but voted in favour of negotiated fees were three members of the Federation of Trade Unions, Chan Wing-chan, Chan Yuen-han and Cheng Yiu-tong. The Citizens Party's Christine Loh Kung-wai, who voted in favour of abolition, was absent from the vote on negotiated fees. Former president of the Law Society Christopher Chan said he was surprised by the 'voting outcome'. A Law Society spokesman said he was pleased the scale fees system was being kept. Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews described the result of the almost 10-hour debate as disappointing.