The Director of Public Prosecution is paying out enormous fees to barristers – all at taxpayers’ expense. It is in sharp contrast to the continuing pay restraint on workers.
In one case, two senior counsel were paid €15,000 each to prepare a Supreme Court case. This was three time an already high rate that is normally paid for such cases.
On top of a fee for preparing cases, barristers can also get a ‘refresher fee’. This is the daily rate for attending court after the second day. The two barristers got a handy €3,000 for each day.
While government departments exercise tight control of the wages of public sector workers, they are more than lenient when it comes to the legal profession.
The dramatic increase in fees was officially approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform after a ‘business case’ was presented to it.
The practice of paying above the norm has become so common that Office of the DPP said it now has 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 of Public Expenditure and Reform for approval.
Irish law firms are among the most profitable in Europe. One survey in 21011 ranked Arthur Cox as the 18th largest firm in Europe and McCann Fitzgerald as the 20th. This is despite the fact that Ireland has a much smaller population than bigger countries such as Germany or France.
The main reason is that they get big state contracts. Each year the state pays out a staggering €500 million to law firms.
People Before Profit want to end this practice. The state should establish a public law firm to deal with any cases it is involved in and cease over the top payments to private firms. It should employ solicitors and barristers on a wage and stop nonsensical practices such as ‘refresher’ fees.
In the meantime workers should take note of these practices and put in their own claims for higher wages.