LEGAL UPDATE:THE LEGAL Aid Board is reducing the fees paid to counsel acting on its behalf. This reduction arises from the need for the board to cut its costs in the context of increased pressure on its resources and no increase in its grant from Government, according to its chief executive, Moling Ryan.
The board has recently published on its website a new scale of fees, outlining the conditions attached to paying those fees.
The fee for preparing a case in the High Court or the Supreme Court is now €3,150 for senior counsel and €2,135 for a junior counsel.
This includes any brief appearances to deal with dates or other matters.
A “refresher” fee of €1,350 will be paid to senior counsel and €1,000 to juniors for each day the case continues.
However, if both senior and junior counsel are retained, the fee for the junior counsel is only €300, unless he or she advocates in court in a Supreme Court case.
Such refresher fees will not be paid when there is a brief appearance to discuss matters such as the practical arrangements for the return of a child under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.
In the Circuit Court, a senior counsel’s fee for preparing a case is €1,650, with the fees for a junior at €1,145, with €650 and €400 respectively for the first day.
This falls to €400 and €300 for subsequent days.
Again, there are no additional fees for brief appearances, though where an extensive submission is made they may be paid €114 and €76 respectively.
In the District Court, where the majority of cases involving family law matters such as maintenance, guardianship, custody and access and childcare applications are heard, the fees for senior counsel are €1,050 for preparing a case and €500 in refresher fees, with €750 for junior counsel and €400 in refresher fees.
A barrister will be paid €150 for appearing in a case involving a renewal of an interim care order.
If the case involves only one issue in a family law dispute, the fee paid will be €339.
Fees for services to the Refugee Legal Service are €385 for a case before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, with reduced fees if the barrister prepares the notice of appeal but does not attend, or attends without drafting the notice of appeal.
Other legal work will be paid on an hourly rate. Depending on the level of court involved, this rate is between €114 and €150 for senior counsel and €76 and €105 for juniors.
This level of fees is likely to mean those barristers briefed by the Legal Aid Board are paid less than those appearing against them – either briefed by private solicitors or by other State bodies such as the Health Service Executive.