Lawyers under fire for €29m Redress Board fees

LAWYERS acting for victims of abuse in institutional schools came under fire last night for creaming off €29m in legal fees from the Redress Board.

Two Dublin firms alone were paid over €4m apiece for their work in securing settlements for victims of Church schools and other institutions, according to figures out today.

But organisations representing survivors criticised the bill for legal fees, which represented around 20% of the €158m paid out by the board in 2005.

Noel Barry, from the Right of Place campaign group, said: “The sums are outrageous.

“The survivors are happy with what they are getting in general but I’m very unhappy with what the legal profession are getting.

“Some of them are getting over €4m in one year. That’s absolutely scandalous money.”

He was also unhappy that barristers were being called upon to work on cases, although the report does not reveal how much the top-flight lawyers were getting via solicitors.

Mr Barry said: “The barristers don’t even spend time with our people.

“They are hired to do a job and they should be made to do that job.”

The Redress Board report revealed the highest earner was Dublin-based firm Lavelle Coleman, which was paid €4.9m for handling 325 clients’ cases.

Average costs worked out at €12,500 per claimant once High Court cases had been stripped out.

Dublin’s Michael E Hanahoe Solicitors got €4.4m for work carried out for 240 clients, an average of €14,700, again after ignoring High Court costs.

By comparison the report reveals averages of €10,000 to €12,000 paid to solicitors who had just one Redress Board case on their books last year.

A lawyer called Michael Hanrahan was paid a fee of €3,810 for handling his only Redress Board case last year with his bill coming well below the €12,500 to €14,700 average charged by the big Dublin firms.

The biggest single bill from a lawyer with just one Redress Board case on their books came to €25,000.

The Redress report reveals that 32 solicitors firms shared the €29m in legal fees for work they did for 4,500 clients living in 26 countries across the world.

More in this section