Lawyers' fees cut by half for Dermot Laide retrial
THE taxing master of the High Court has almost cut in half legal fees claimed by barristers for the retrial of a former Blackrock College student who had been due to stand trial for the manslaughter of a fellow student outside a Dublin nightclub.
Four years ago the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed with the retrial of Dermot Laide, whose initial manslaughter conviction for the death of Brian Murphy had been quashed on appeal due to evidential difficulties including the non-availability of former State Pathologist John Harbison.
Mr Laide's defence team submitted a bill for the retrial at €200,000 for the instructing solicitor and €60,000 for each of two senior counsel who had conducted preparatory work.
But yesterday Taxing Master Charles Moran reduced the senior counsel fees to €35,000 and the solicitor's fees to €148,000. Junior counsel's fees claimed at €50,000 were reduced to €23,333.
Representatives of the DPP complained that the fees submitted on behalf of the senior counsel, claimed at a rate of €60,000, bore no regard to the fees paid to his counsel, set at €8,500 for the same case.
The DPP also complained that insufficient regard was given to the fact that the re-trial was on lesser charges than the original trial but Mr Laide's defence team submitted that the reduction in fees by the taxing master did not adequately reflect the input of counsel into what was described as "this difficult matter".
Mr Moran's reduction follows his decision last month to reduce by some 82pc fees in a legal case which he described as "grossly excessive" and "revolting in the extreme".
It also comes as the head of Ireland's fast-track Commercial Court appeals for lawyers to minimise costs for their clients.
Judge Kelly was speaking on Thursday night at the inaugural meeting of the Commercial Litigation Association of Ireland (CLAI), which heard that legal costs were an issue he had placed on every agenda of the Commercial Court's user committee meetings.
Judge Kelly said there was "no let-up" in the amount of new business coming into the court, which was dominated by multi-million euro debt claims against banks, counter claims against banks and lawsuits against investment advisers.
CLAI's steering committee includes solicitors from the largest corporate law firms in Ireland, including Arthur Cox, McCann Fitzgerald, Matheson Ormsby Prentice, William Fry and A&L Goodbody.