Wednesday 22 November 2017

Credit union manager’s fee cut from €423 to €375 an hour

Tim Healy

A €423-PER-HOUR fee charged by a special manager to a Kildare credit union has been cut to €375 following an application from the Central Bank to the High Court.

President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, approved the reduction for chartered accountant Luke Charleton, who was appointed last month to manage the entire business of Newbridge Credit Union.

The reduction comes into effect from Monday. The bank and Mr Charleton both disputed as “inaccurate” claims by counsel for the credit union's supervisory committee that costs of €750,000 have been incurred since January 13 when a Special Management Order (SMO) was granted.

Claims by Bernard Dunleavy, counsel for the committee, that Mr Charleton was mainly replicating work carried out by accountants Grant Thornton, for the bank prior to the SMO being made, were also rejected. In approving the fee reductions as “a constructive development” yesterday, Mr Justice Kearns stressed that when appointing Mr Charleton on January 13, he had made clear that fees would be subject to regular review.

The members and depositors of the credit union “need have no fear unrealistic fees will be approved”, he said. The reduced fees correspond to the standard approved by the courts in such situations, he added.

Under the approved cut, there will also be corresponding fee reductions for Mr Charleton’s staff: down to €375 for partners (down from €423); €300 for directors (from €339); €247 for senior managers (from €279); €191 for managers (from €216) and €135 for senior assistants (from €150).

The proceedings were before the judge only for the purpose of the application to reduce fees and Paul Gallagher, counsel for the bank, stressed it was “business as usual” at the credit union. Mr Gallagher said Mr Charleton had done “extensive work” carrying out his very important functions helping resolve the difficulties at the credit union.

Mr Dunleavy said the directors and supervisory committee were not opposed to the reduction in fees, but pointed out the first cut was prospective, to apply only from Monday next. He said the special manager has been in situ for a month and the directors and supervisory committee had given him every assistance.

It was likely to later transpire that much of the manager's work would turn out to replicate that done by Grant Thornton for the Central Bank in advance of his appointment. Rossa Fanning, counsel for Mr Charleton, said there was a 14-day period to challenge his appointment and none was brought.

The claims made about the fees were incorrect and the functions of the directors and managers had been vested in the special manager, he added.

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