Mahon Tribunal set to cost €200m

The final cost of the Mahon Tribunal is likely to be €200m, according to an estimate provided by the planning inquiry to the Government.

This will include almost €94m for third-party costs and expenses which the inquiry has yet to rule on.

The figures and associated estimates were released by the planning corruption probe to the head of the Department of Environment which oversees the inquiry.

Department secretary general Geraldine Tallon was asked to provide the estimates to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Her letter last week, obtained by the Irish Examiner, shows third-party discovery costs alone are expected to cost €56m. This relates to documents witnesses were required to release or hand over to the inquiry, which amounted to some 1.6m pages.

The tribunal has estimated there is a cost of €35 per page discovered to the tribunal. The third-party cost estimates include amounts scheduled to be paid out to senior and junior counsels and solicitors for witnesses per day. Officials in the inquiry estimate daily costs to be paid to external lawyers amount to €4,000 for senior barristers, €2,667 for junior barristers, and €10,000 for solicitors.

Calculating appearances for 588 days, the Mahon Tribunal says the cost for representation at hearings will amount to €51.4m.

This is on top of the €56m for discovery costs as well as another €10m for outstanding third party-related costs.

The inquiry has whittled down the final costs expected to be paid out by 20%, taking into account negotiations on previous costs that were awarded by the tribunal. This leaves a final costs estimate figure of €93.9m. The tribunal to date has already cost €97m to the end of last year.

Judge Mahon’s inquiry however, while it released its final report in March, will still cost a substantial amount in the coming years. Its own operating costs from 2012 onwards are estimated to amount to €5m. This includes potential litigation costs.

Ms Tallon told PAC by letter last week: “It should be noted that all of the calculations and estimates set out above have been prepared by the Mahon Tribunal’s registrar on the basis of a comprehensive examination of the tribunal’s records and reasonable estimates of what costs might likely be sought, relying on the tribunal’s greater experience of the costs process from dealing with third-party claims.”


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