Inquiry responsible for legal bill

 

COMMISSION COSTS:THE COMMISSION to Inquire into Child Abuse “is the body responsible for negotiating and setting all legal costs related to its investigation committee,” its secretary Brenda McVeigh said.

She said the commission did not meet yesterday to discuss the fate of its documents, but would do so in due course. “It is an inevitable part of any inquiry that decisions must be taken regarding the return of documents to those from whom they came or, if appropriate, the disposal of others.”

She confirmed that under the Act which set it up, the commission could not identify witnesses nor could it provide information which could lead to identification, even to the Garda.

Ms McVeigh was responding to a report that the commission was meeting yesterday and that it had no role in the awarding of legal costs to parties who appeared before it. She said that as secretary to the commission, she directed “an in-house legal costs team, including a legal costs accountant, in these matters. I deal with the bills for third-party legal representation as and when they are submitted to me.”

The commission’s costs team had “worked extremely hard to ensure that only what is reasonable is paid, in terms of third-party legal costs.

“We forensically review each bill and every element of it, together with our files, discovery, transcripts and records from the hearings, to ensure appropriateness of the level of costs,” she said.

“Once we have analysed and negotiated the costs and have reached agreed settlements, I send a direction for payment to the Department of Education and Science.”

Last Wednesday, the day the commission report was published, it was disclosed that it had paid out some €18.5 million in legal costs and expected to pay considerably more in settling outstanding costs.