€450-an-hour lawyer racks up €86k bill for case involving €19k judgment

A lawyer for AIB yesterday described as “outrageous” a rate of €450 per hour charged by a solicitor in a case relating to a Nama debtor.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Sinead Garry, counsel for AIB, contested a ruling by Clare County Registrar Pat Wallace that Dublin solicitor Paul Foley should receive a fee of €48,979.

Mr Wallace had reduced the fee from €86,000, which was based on a rate of €450 per hour.

In court, Ms Garry said the fee demanded by Sandymount-based firm JP Foley & Co was “outrageous”.

Ms Garry said the bill concerned a judgment for €19,000 in a largely uncontested legal action.

In the case, AIB had agreed to pay Mr Foley’s fees arising out of a legal action relating to a Nama debtor who owed holiday homes in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare.

AIB is now seeking a further reduction in Mr Foley’s bill. Ms Garry suggested to Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that Mr Wallace’s ruling was “around €15,000 to €20,000 too much”.

In an affidavit, drawn up by cost accountant Michael Ryan, he claimed the hourly rate of €375 and €200 time spent travelling allowed by Mr Wallace for Mr Foley “was unjustified and excessive”.

Mr Ryan said an appropriate rate based on the work done is in the region of €250 per hour and €170 per hour travel time.

Ms Garry said that almost all of Mr Foley’s appearances in court were uncontested.

In her application, Ms Garry said Mr Foley should not be allowed his fees relating to a number of appearances at Ennis court.

However, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said he would allow in principle Mr Foley his fees in relation to those court appearances, but would decide on the rate at a later date. “I am of the view that there is a complexity involved in the matter. The solicitor acting was entitled to attend all matters himself rather than delegate same to a local agent.”

The judge adjourned the issue of the hourly rate to Jun 17 to Dublin, where he would hear Mr Foley make his submissions.

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