Central Bank legal spend tops €60,000 a week

The spend by the Central Bank on third-party legal services last year increased by 23% to €3.2m, or a weekly average spend of €61,538.

New figures from the Central Bank show one firm, Arthur Cox, received fees of €1.5m to €2m last year.

The spend on third-party legal services rose by €600,000 in one year, going from €2.6m in 2013 to €3.2m in 2014.

In relation to last year, the figures show McCann Fitzgerald received fees of between €900,000 and €1m while Mason Hayes and Curran received fees between €200,000 and €300,000.

The Central Bank also disclosed that one firm, Byrne and Wallace received fees between €100,000 and €200,000, with one barrister, Ailbhe O’Neill BL, also receiving fees in that fee bracket.

The figures for 2013 show that one firm, McCann Fitzgerald, received fees of between €1.5m to €2m with two firms, Arthur Cox and Byrne Wallace, receiving fees of €100,000 to €200,000.

A major driver of fees earned by McCann Fitzgerald is the firm’s work on Central Bank’s new €140m HQ project, with the bank recently confirming McCann Fitzgerald received €678,993 on legal services for the project.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank said yesterday that the factors behind the overall increase in 2014 “were due to defences on behalf of the bank in litigation proceedings and judicial review proceedings”

In respect of the legal fees paid to Arthur Cox last year, the spokeswoman said “the firm carried out work in respect of litigation, including judicial review proceedings and credit union resolutions”.

According to the Central Bank annual report “significant litigation during the year included resolution actions taken by the bank in respect of Howth Sutton Credit Union, Berehaven Credit Union, and Killorglin Credit Union and an enforcement order obtained in respect of Smart Resolutions.”

On the bank’s other activities in the legal area, the report states that “major legislative projects progressed included the Single Supervisory Mechanism and Solvency II while draft regulations were prepared on residential mortgage lending, lending to small and medium enterprises, client asset requirements and credit union regulation.

The annual report also states that legal advice was given on a number of large projects including the development of new premises for the Bank in North Wall Quay, the introduction of a new collateral management system and the proposed Central Credit Register.

According to the Central Bank, legal reviews were conducted of residential mortgage pools backing special mortgage-backed promissory notes. Legal assessments were also carried out on the compliance of asset-backed securities with Eurosystem eligibility criteria.

Separate figures provided by the Central Bank show that its heating bill for its Dame St tower block last year rose by 30% last year going from €61,562 to €80,053.

Separately, cleaning costs for the Central Bank’s Dame St tower block last year declined from a spend of €416,596 in 2013 to €334,620 last year.

The spend last year was made up of pay and pensions of €179,778 with an additional €154,841 on other costs and this followed a spend of €180,774 on pay and pensions in 2013, along with an additional €235,822 on other costs.

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