Doubling of legal fees is 'outrageous'
THE Law Society has passed a ruling which will see families charged double when transferring family homes or farms to their children, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).
Solicitors are to be prohibited from acting on both sides of property transactions under new regulations approved by the Law Society, following the publication of an extensive report on possible conflicts of interest in the legal profession.
However, ICMSA president John Comer described the news as "a disaster for those who want to see Ireland's cost structure made more internationally competitive and, very definitely, very bad news for Ireland's family farm system".
The report, published on Friday by the Society's Conveyancing Conflicts Task Force, found that solicitors should be banned from acting for the vendor and purchaser in land or property transactions -- even in the transfer of property between family members.
The Law Society pointed to a HSE/UCD report that showed that 94 per cent of financial abuse of the elderly is carried out by family members. The report also found instances of elderly people being forced, or misled, "to sign over ownership" of a property against their will.
The Law Society report stated: "Many elderly people divest themselves of their property during their lifetime and that they tend to do so to children or other family members other than for full value."
However, Mr Comer said the instances of elder abuse were greatly exaggerated by the Law Society and the ruling would double legal fees for people trying to transfer family homes.
"The report has clearly exaggerated the incidence, and level of, undue influence and elder abuse in order to justify the prohibition on solicitors acting for both parties in the transfer of property," he said.
"Straightforward cases like a parent transferring a house or a farm to a child will now involve at least two solicitors -- and very significantly, they will have to pay two times the fees. Where the fees could have been approximately calculated at €4,000 we can now look forward to fees of €8,000," Mr Comer said.
"It is absolutely outrageous, unnecessary and a perfect example of the syndrome where professionals in Ireland were allowed set their own fees at the catastrophic expense of the economy and the public."