Friday 22 February 2019

Lawyers paid three times rate set by the Government for case

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Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) paid lawyers sums considerably in excess of rates set by the Government in nine different cases last year.

In one case, two senior counsel were paid €15,000 each to prepare for a Supreme Court case, three times the usual brief fee for such proceedings.

Their refresher fees, the daily rate for attending in court on the second and subsequent days of the hearing, were doubled from €1,500 to €3,000.

The boosting of their fees was approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform after "a business case" was made by the Office of the DPP.

There were also eight other cases where fees were increased above the norm, but where the department's approval was not required.

These included one Supreme Court case where fees paid to barristers were increased by 60pc above set rates. A senior counsel brief fee went from €5,000 to €8,000, while junior counsel were paid a €5,334 brief fee instead of the usual €3,333.

In a different case, in the High Court, a barrister was paid €2,000 for an application to seek a judicial review instead of the usual rate of €635.

In another High Court case, a barrister was paid €750 for drafting the principal affidavit opposing an application, instead of the usual rate of €169.

In a further High Court matter, a barrister was paid €500 for taking a judgment, rather than the usual rate of €127.

In a statement, the Office of the DPP said it had delegated sanction to pay brief fees of up to €8,316 and refresher fees of up to €2,315 without needing to go to the department for approval.

It said factors to be taken into account when considering whether to pay above usual rates included "the complexity of the case, the volume of material to be considered by counsel and the number of defendants in the case".

A spokesman for the department said requests for fee rates above the standard norm had to be accompanied by a business case from the DPP outlining the rationale and basis for such requests.

Irish Independent

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