Apple tax case: Four individual lawyers paid over €500,000 each

William Fry solicitors received single biggest payment of €3.28m as total fees hit €8.4m

About €3.9m was spent setting up the escrow account for the €14.3bn in back tax that the Irish State was ordered to collect from Apple. Photograph: Stephen Lam/File Photo/Reuters

About €3.9m was spent setting up the escrow account for the €14.3bn in back tax that the Irish State was ordered to collect from Apple. Photograph: Stephen Lam/File Photo/Reuters

 

The Department of Finance has provided complete details of more than €8.4 million paid out in legal fees and consultancy as part of the Apple tax case.

The department had been refusing to provide details of payments made to individual lawyers, saying it would be a breach of GDPR.

However, following advice from the Attorney General and in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act and from the Public Accounts Committee, the data has been released in full.

Four different individual legal practitioners have been paid more than €500,000 for their work on the case, including former attorney general Paul Gallagher SC.

Mr Gallagher – who served as attorney general from 2007 to 2011 – was paid €612,242, according to the records.

The highest individual earner was Maurice Collins SC, who was paid €671,664 for his work on the case, with most of those payments covering the period 2017-2019.

Philip Baker QC earned €608,804, the department said, while barrister Barry Doherty was paid €581,467.

Biggest payment

The single biggest payment was made to William Fry solicitors, which received €3.28 million, while the multinational consultancy firm PwC received €610,724.

McCann Fitzgerald was paid €542,459, while Baker McKenzie received fees totalling €199,527.

Eurotext Translations was paid €99,088 for its work on the case, while Word Perfect Translations received €4,273.

Barrister Aoife Goodman was paid €331,409, Benedict Ó Floinn got €49,194, and Brian Murray SC was paid €44,588, according to the records.

Catherine Donnelly received €140,141, while QC Conor Quigley was paid €58,538. Denis McDonald SC received €219,824 for his work on the case.

John Cooke SC – now a judge – was paid €19,205 and barrister Suzanne Kingston received €267,660. A number of other legal practitioners received payments for their involvement in the case.

The total bill came to €8.429 million, with the department saying it included all expenditure incurred up until the end of March.

Of that figure about €3.9 million was spent setting up the escrow account for the €14.3 billion in back tax that the European Commission ordered the Irish State to collect from Apple.

The Government is appealing the commission’s ruling through the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

GDPR ‘breach’

Under Freedom of Information, the department said that in April 2019 it had received legal advice from the Attorney General to the effect that release of individual fees could be in breach of GDPR.

“The department received correspondence from the Public Accounts Committee in relation to this matter,” it said.

“Following this, and following engagement with the Data Protection Commissioner on the matter, the department sought further advices from the Attorney General’s Office seeking additional clarifications.”

In the meantime transparency group Right to Know sought the data under Freedom of Information, and the department said if there was no legal constraint to publication of material it would be happy to resume releasing it into the public domain.

It said in an information note: “The department has now received the legal clarifications, which had been sought from the Attorney General.

“Having considered the advice, the department has concluded that this should allow for the release of the relevant detailed information on an individual occasional basis.”

The department said it was of the view that it was now appropriate to release the information “in the interests of transparency and accountability”.

Solicitor Fred Logue, who advised on the case for Right to Know, said: “This is a welcome decision. Details of the payments to lawyers acting for the State have always been published.

“There is nothing in GDPR that prevents this given that there is a strong public interest in transparency around how public money is spent.”