Professional fees should be advertised, says Calleary

FF TD also says need to train judges in company law

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary said solicitors, barristers, auditors and accountants should post the prices for their services on the relevant regulator’s website.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary said solicitors, barristers, auditors and accountants should post the prices for their services on the relevant regulator’s website.

Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 00:49

Those providing professional services to the public should be required to advertise their prices, Fianna Fáil spokesman on jobs, enterprise and innovation Dara Calleary told the Dáil.

He said solicitors, barristers, auditors and accountants should post the prices for their services, including hourly rates, on the relevant regulator’s website so companies wishing to avail of services would know the cost from the outset.

“All professionals should be required to provide clients with meaningful cost estimates,’’ he added.

Mr Calleary was speaking during the debate on the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, which provides for examinerships to be dealt with in the Circuit Court where the company had a maximum turnover of €8.8 million, a balance sheet of €4.4 million and 50 employees or fewer.

He said that for an examinership to be successful, the primary need was often access to credit. Unless the issue was addressed, he added, the good and very solid structures provided for in the Bill would be merely structures and the legislation’s aims might not be realised.

Many companies found the prospect of going to the High Court to seek examinership daunting, Mr Calleary said. “They regard the High Court process as the preserve of large corporations and many are not comfortable in its surroundings. They have some justification in believing that costs could spiral out of control.’’

It was estimated that Circuit Court costs would be 30 per cent lower than an examinership process through the High Court, because of lower legal and accountancy fees, he added.

Mr Calleary said there would be a need to train judges to ensure they were adequately versed in what might be complex commercial cases.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said small businesses were central to the Government’s growth and jobs plans. Some 200,000 small businesses employed about 650,000 people, or more than one-third of all people working in Ireland.

“Many of these businesses have substantial growth potential but face legacy debt problems arising from the financial crisis,’’ he added. “We are confident that by creating a mechanism for them to deal with these legacy problems we can not only save jobs but also unlock the potential for the growth and job creation we are striving to achieve.’’

Mr Bruton said the provision of an examinership, which had been recommended by the company law review group, allowed small companies to avail of the option to access it directly through the Circuit Court rather than the High Court.

In particular, he said, businesses with large potential for growth and job creation, held back by legacy debt problems, were expected to benefit from the move.

Jonathan O’Brien (SF) said giving smaller companies the option of availing of examinership through the Circuit Court was to be welcomed because many small businesses had huge legacy debts, sometimes through no fault of their own.

Welcoming the legislation, Finian McGrath (Ind) said the focus must be on job creation and a strong SME sector was vital in that regard. They must also recognise people who came up with new ideas for schemes to create jobs. This was happening in the food sector and those involved in tourism were filling hotel rooms and taking on new staff.