‘Avoidable’ charges costing taxpayer

TAXPAYERS’ money is being wasted because of avoidable pre-trial applications in court cases involving local authorities and the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Master of the High Court has said.

Master Edmund Honohan SC, who deals daily with hundreds of pre-trial applications in court cases, has said he makes costs orders every day against local authorities and the HSE in applications where costs were wasted.

No client can afford “no expense spared” litigation in a recession but public bodies do not appear to be getting the value for money that private clients can expect, he said.

Mr Honohan said such costs as he had referred to are “avoidable” and it was taxpayers’ money being wasted. Such costs are not incurred with the same frequency in litigation involving private sector clients, he added.

He made the remark when making a wasted costs order requiring a solicitor representing the HSE to personally pay the other side’s costs of a procedural application after the solicitor overlooked a listed motion and then requested a rehearing.

The Master also said he could not understand why in many cases public sector clients were being advised to agree to requests for the extensive discovery of documents, especially when applicants could not say why they needed the documents. The public sector cannot afford avoidable costs at a time when the public finances are in poor shape, he stressed.

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