Sunday 18 March 2018

State will not pay Sean FitzPatrick's legal costs, judge rules

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

Conor Gallagher

The State does not have to pay the legal costs of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick arising from his recent criminal trial, a judge has ruled.

This afternoon Judge Martin Nolan, rejected an application by Mr FitzPatrick’s legal team that he should not be liable for the cost of defending himself during the 48 day trial after which he was acquitted on all charges.

The judge sided with lawyers for the State who had challenged the costs application and questioned whether Mr FitzPatrick had even paid his own legal fees.

The judge ruled that he had paid his own fees but that the DPP had acted properly and fairly in bringing the prosecution and so should not have to pay Mr FitzPatrick’s costs.

Judge Nolan said that it might seem unfair to the layman that an acquitted man should be left with the legal bill for his own defence but that because the prosecution was conducted properly, he was rejecting the former chairman’s application.

During the costs hearing Paul O’Higgins SC for the State asked how Mr FitzPatrick, who was an undischarged bankrupt during the trial, was able to pay his costs.

He said that a requirement for the granting of costs is that the defendant actually had to bear those costs. Therefore, he said, there is a question as to whether Mr FitzPatrick is under a legal liability for costs.

Mr O’Higgins added that costs should not be awarded because of the public interest in bringing the prosecution.

“For this reason the appropriate order is that there should be no order (for costs).”

Mr FitzPatrick’s counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC, was seeking the entire costs arising from the 48 trial and preparations. The defence team comprised of a two junior and one senior counsel as well a solicitor. Mr O’Higgins described the legal bill as “enormous” but did not specify a figure.

Counsel asked where the justice would be “in letting Mr FitzPatrick leave the courtroom with his pockets bulging with a huge legal bill.”

Last March Mr FitzPatrick was acquitted of 16 counts of providing illegal loans to the Quinn family and the Maple Ten group of investors.

His fellow Anglo directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer were convicted on ten counts of providing illegal loans to the Maple Ten to prop up the Anglo share price. Their sentence will be finalised next month when they are expected to receive community service.

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