Nova Scotia judges are getting a 3.8 per cent salary increase, but that still leaves them below the national average.

Chrissy Matheson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said Monday that the raise comes from an independent tribunal that looked at the salaries and benefits of Nova Scotia provincial judges.

"We understand that most Nova Scotians think this is a significant increase. It is," she wrote Monday in email to CBC News.

"Under the Provincial Court Act, executive council has no authority to question or change the panel's decision. The recommendation is binding."

The tribunal set a base salary of $231,500 for the province's 42 family and provincial court judges. It'll go up with a cost-of-living adjustment each year. The plan runs from April 2014 to March 2017.

The government had asked the panel to not increase the salary as it said even the previous amount put judges in the top one per cent of provincial taxpayers.

The national average for judges is a salary of $242,637. As of April 2014, New Brunswick had the lowest base salary at $204,700, while Ontario had the highest at $274,574.

The tribunal comprised Bruce Archibald, Q.C., Brian Johnston, Q.C., and Ronald Pink, Q.C.