Bank inquiry lawyer fees ‘outrageous’

One lawyer received €18,223, including Vat, for seven days’ work at the Oireachtas banking inquiry in April and May of this year.

Charles Meenan received the €18,223 for attending banking inquiry hearings concerning the evidence provided by various bankers, along with evidence given by former financial regulator, Patrick Neary, on seven separate dates between April 22 and May 28.

Mr Meenan attended the hearings to provide expert guidance on legal issues. Freedom of Information files show Mr Meenan received €42,569 in fees for work related to the inquiry in the second quarter of this year.

The payout comes after the inquiry achieved an 8% reduction in fees being paid to senior and junior counsel. Senior counsel had been receiving fees of €264 (excluding Vat) per hour. This has now been reduced by 8% or €21.12 to €242.88 per hour. Junior counsel had been receiving €156 per hour. This has reduced by €12.48 to €143.52 per hour.

In the quarter between April and the end of June, over €120,000 was paid to barristers and solicitors — including €25,543 paid to Beauchamps Solicitors.

One senior lawyer, Sara Moorhead, charged the inquiry €275 per hour less 8% at €253 per hour and received €1,244, including Vat, for four hours’ work in March.

Fine Gael senator Martin Conway said yesterday that the 8% reduction in fees “is very welcome... but doesn’t go far enough”. He said: “The rates per hour being paid is still an outrageous cost to the taxpayer and can’t be justified in any way.”

One other senior lawyer, Patrick McCann, received €21,505, including Vat, for work on the inquiry between April and the end of June .

The top-paid junior counsel for the period was Patricia O’Sullivan Lacy, who received €13,987.

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