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Law firms feel benefit of NAMA as 50 are commissioned for work

Almost 50 law firms across the country have now been given work by NAMA, either in enforcement against developers or on borrowers' business plans, new figures reveal.

The loans agency has two legal panels, one for enforcement and re-financing and another for due diligence on borrowers' business plans.

The agency is dealing with a number of enforcement actions and its chief executive Brendan McDonagh warned this week that certain developers were still living lifestyles not compatible with the recession.

The first panel consists of 42 solicitors' firms and, of this group, some 29 have been given work to date. The other panel has 64 solicitors' firms, with 18 of this group getting commissioned. This means since its establishment at the end of 2009, NAMA has used 47 firms, with the tally certain to reach 50 by year end.

The demand by NAMA for legal expertise highlights the scale of the agency's work, but also the sometimes tough negotiations the agency encounters with borrowers.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan says that NAMA also has a 16-person legal staff of its own.

The pay and conditions of this group are confidential. The individual fees earned by solicitors' firms were also not something that could be revealed, Mr Noonan added. "As regards fees and remuneration, NAMA informs me that the contractual details of all contracts between the agency and individual service providers are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, are commercially sensitive and are confidential,'' he said.

"I also am advised by NAMA that all major contracts have been awarded through www.etenders.gov.ie, the website for Irish public tenders and have been fully compliant with standard public procurement procedures,'' he added.

Several developers have taken actions against the agency, including Paddy McKillen, Ray Grehan and now David Daly, most associated with Albany Homes, a housebuilder.

NAMA has fought all these cases vigorously.

It is understood that a number of borrowers also use their legal representatives in discussions with NAMA, with some other borrowers preferring to be represented by accountants.

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