High Court cuts administrator fees

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

The President of the High Court today cut by 25 per cent the €480 per hour fees sought by the administrator of insurance company Icarom.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns also cut the average €330 hourly fees for his staff after noting "a great deal of public disquiet at the level of fees charged for this type of work". The fees sought had not been objected to by the Central Bank.

Icarom was formerly the Insurance Corporation of Ireland plc which collapsed in the 1980s leading to an insurance levy being imposed. The administration has lasted almost 30 years and is expected to conclude shortly. Some €10m was paid back to the State's Insurance Compensation Fund out of the administration last year.

Donal O'Connor was appointed Icarom administrator in 1990 and, after he retired in 2008 as a partner in accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2008, the Department of Finance agreed he would continue in that role with the assistance of PWC staff.

Mr Justice Kearns said today, because he must be satisfied the fees sought were not in excess of the norm approved by the court, he would not approve the fees and was cutting them by 25 per cent.

In addition to the €480 fee claimed by Mr O'Connor, he was told the average hourly fee of other staff of PWC involved in the administration was €330. That average, the judge noted, took into account the lower rates of "footsoldiers".

The court heard the hourly rate of partners in PWC was €580 but Mr O'Connor was not seeking that and was instead seeking €480 an hour.

In calculating the hourly rates, Mr O'Connor said in an affidavit he applied the same method of charging and basis of charging used by PWC for any other commercial client. The rates charged for PWC staff in the period January to December 2011 ranged downwards from €580 for a partner, €470-€390 for directors, €480-€355 for senior managers and €105-€148 for assistants.

The judge approved without alteration the fees sought by Deloitte as auditors to Icaram, which he was told averaged out at €180 an hour. The firm will receive almost €50,000 for their work for Icarom in 2010 and the judge reappointed it to audit the company for the years 2011 and 2012.

The Central Bank had indicated in a letter to solicitors for the administrator this week it had no objection to the fees application.

In his affidavit seeking approval for the fees, Mr O'Connor said, following transfer of Icarom's Irish business to another insurer in July 1990, Icarom's activities have been concerned with the orderly run off of all the liabilities of the remaining business.