Tuesday 12 December 2017

PAC legal bill for defending Kerins action hits €234,000

Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins Courts
Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Oireachtas has spent €234,000 defending the lawsuit taken against the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins.

The cash has been paid to three barristers who represented the committee, according to figures obtained by the Irish Independent.

The committee is seeking to recover the costs from Ms Kerins, who lost her suit in January.

However, she is resisting this, and the taxpayer could end up footing the PAC bill if the High Court sides with arguments made by her legal team.

Ms Kerins (58) unsuccessfully sued for damages, alleging bullying by certain PAC members. Ordinarily, losing parties in civil actions have to bear the cost of the action. However, Ms Kerins's legal team has argued that the PAC should pay her costs and its own costs as it acted outside its jurisdiction in its dealings with her.

Her lawyers also claimed Ms Kerins should not bear the costs as the case raised issues "of Constitutional importance".

The court is expected to give a ruling in the coming weeks on the issue. Figures disclosed by the Oireachtas show former Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC was paid €108,961 in relation to the case. A further €40,245 was paid to Brian Kennedy SC, while Catherine Donnelly BL was paid €84,747 for work on the case.

The three barristers defended the committee and the clerk of the Dáil in a case which involved 10 days of hearings and another four days dealing with pre-trial matters.

The figures do not include the costs of the Attorney General, who was also a successful defendant in the case, or the costs incurred by Ms Kerins in hiring her own legal team.

The overall costs of case are expected to be well in excess of €500,000, with some estimates placing them in the region of €700,000.

Irish Independent

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