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State pays top five lawyers in excess of €250,000

Five lawyers each received fees in excess of €250,000 last year through their work for the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO), new figures show.

According to the CSSO, €10.2m was paid in fees last year to barristers acting in the civil courts on behalf of government departments and other state authorities.

Last year's payout represents a 42pc reduction in fees since 2008 when €17.7m was paid out -- this compares with €19.65m received by barristers in the same year (2008) in fees from the more high-profile Criminal Legal Aid Scheme for work in the criminal courts.

The figures for last year show that one barrister, Emily Farrell BL, received €408,868 (including VAT) in fees. She was followed by David Conlan Smyth BL, who was paid €317,069, and barrister Siobhan Stack, who got €296,079.

One of the top earners from last year was Robert Barron SC, who received €222,942. Another high earner was David Keane SC, who received €192,711 in 2011.

The figures show that six of the 10 top earners last year were also in the top 10 in 2010 when a total of €12.3m was paid out in fees. In 2009, barristers received €16.1m from the CSSO.

Over the past five years, the figures showed barristers received a total of €71.6m from the CSSO for government work.

In a written Dail response to Sinn Fein's Jonathan O'Brien providing the annual total pay-out in fees, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "Management of the expenditure from 2008 to 2011 out-turn has seen a reduction of 42pc."

However, while there was a drop in counsel fees, separate figures provided to Mr O'Brien show that payments by the CSSO under the Attorney General's scheme increased by 55pc from €2.62m to €4m.

Irish Independent