Monday 18 November 2019

Barristers owed thousands of euro by solicitors may name and shame

Ray Managh

BARRISTERS, who are owed tens of thousands of euro in legal fees by solicitors, may soon name and shame the culprits, it was learned today.

At its annual general meeting, the Bar Council of Ireland adopted a proposal to maintain a debt collection and credit rating service for its members to assist in the recovery of professional fees.

The credit rating service would highlight and expose those solicitors who are using money, rightly belonging to barristers, to run their own offices and legal practices, a Bar Council source stated.

The setting up of some sort of debt collection “internal agency” to act on behalf of Bar Council members is currently under consideration by a committee which will bring proposals back to the Bar Council following the long vacation.

During the Celtic Tiger days dozens of solicitors left joint practices to set up their own legal businesses with all the extra office and employment overheads associated with such moves. Some became players in the housing and apartments market.

With the collapse of the property boom conveyancing of land and property dried up; the rental sector dipped and, together with the recession, mounting unemployment and austerity measures, civil actions started drying up all over the country.

The days when solicitors could and did fund civil actions on a no foal no fee basis have disappeared. Litigants also are no longer prepared to risk engineering, medical and legal costs bills in the event of a claim failing.

Barristers were hit with their own salvo of misfortunes. They, too, dallied in property. Pensions and investments collapsed. Their main source of income again became their turnover in professional fees which, they claim, are being held up or just not being paid out by solicitors.

“The anger and frustration in the Bar Library is palpable,” the Bar Council source said.

“Young barristers in particular are being abused by some non-paying solicitors. They need experience and literally cannot refuse any kind of work. We have decided to straighten out certain matters,” he said.

Any solicitor not living up to the expectations of their fellow legal eagles would seem to be in for a wigging.

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