Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has welcomed a proposed 25 per cent cut in the fees barristers charge for government work, as well as the proposal to introduce a more transparent pricing system that will hopefully reduce legal fees to the State.
Describing the changes as “long overdue”, Deputy Crowe said that plans by the State Claims Agency to cut legal charges by up to 25 per cent in a new system which will set maximum fee limits for specific elements of work performed by barristers must be implemented without delay.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The State Claims Agency, which deals with personal injury and property damage claims against 54 state bodies aims to have in place a scheme which would reduce the pay of barristers by mid-November. This follows a similar initiative two years ago which the agency claims will cut fees by between 20 and 25 per cent.
“The massively excessive fees paid to barristers and solicitors over the past decade and beyond should have been capped by the previous governments. The tribunals into planning and corrupt payments to politicians became a “gravy train” that cost the State and tax payers hundreds of millions in legal fees. We know from a breakdown of the fees paid out, that it also made multi-millionaires of many people working in the legal profession.
“One of the worst examples of this flawed system was the money that was paid to the legal profession under the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which was established to compensate the survivors of residential abuse. In 2010, €157m had been paid in legal fees to barristers and solicitors who worked on behalf of the victims of institutional abuse which was more than 15% of all the money paid out as part of the Redress Scheme for thousands of people who suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse in Industrial Schools and other Institutions.
“This was never what the Redress Board was supposed to be about.
“The millions spent in processing claims while many victims got a pittance added to the sense of hurt and should have gone directly to the victims and their families.
“I hope these changes signal a new approach and will ensure that the excessive amounts of money paid to barristers in the past from the state purse will never again be repeated.”