Business Irish

Saturday 23 September 2017

Arthur Cox defends fees, conflict policies

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

ARTHUR Cox, the "magic circle" law firm that has netted more than €11m from the State for advice on the banking crisis, has defended its fees and conflicts policies.

Padraig O'Riordan, the managing partner of Arthur Cox, has also denied accusations of "political influence" amid suggestions that the amount of lucrative state work carried out by the firm leaves it open to charges of favouritism.

Arthur Cox has represented and continues to represent both Bank of Ireland and the State throughout the banking crisis.

"We have entirely separate teams acting for Bank of Ireland and the State and they represent the interests of their clients as fully and robustly as separate firms would -- perhaps even more so at times," Mr O'Riordan told 'The Parchment', the magazine of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association.

"Whilst there may be a theme in the press about our having more conflicts than anyone else, every piece of work we are undertaking for the State in the banking crisis we have now won at public tender, which has included a repeated assessment of our conflicts position."

Arthur Cox was appointed by the Fianna Fail-led government to advise on the banking crisis, without a competitive tender, in late 2008.

Tendering

Mr O'Riordan said that when the crisis began it was "the very definition of an emergency" so there was not the possibility of undertaking the tendering process they usually have for procuring work.

"But all of the work has since been competitively tendered and we have won those competitions on merit," he said.

So far, Arthur Cox has netted €11m in fees from the State to advise the Government and key financial agencies on the bank guarantees, the nationalisation of Anglo and recapitalisations and restructuring plans.

The hourly rate for legal advice from a partner in Arthur Cox was €472.50.

This included a 10pc discount as agreed with the Government, but less VAT.

Mr O'Riordan acknowledged that the fees earned by the firm since the onset of the banking crisis were "large" and were difficult for people to see what the State was getting for the money as much of the work was technical and "most often beneath the public radar".

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