Bailey’s solicitor was highest legal aid earner

The highest earning lawyer through the State’s criminal legal aid scheme last year was Ian Bailey’s solicitor, Cork-based Frank Buttimer.

Figures released by the Department of Justice last night show Mr Buttimer’s practice received €889,659 (including VAT) in criminal legal aid payments in 2011.

The payment received by Mr Buttimer is part of the €33m paid to 954 solicitors last year, down €900,000 on the previous year.

Barristers got €19.3m through the criminal legal aid scheme, €1m less than in 2010.

The figures show 524 junior counsel received €12.4m last year, with 89 senior counsel receiving €6.9m.

In total, lawyers received €52.4m — a drop of 3% on the €54.2m paid in 2010.

The Department of Justice confirmed the criminal legal aid scheme cost the State €56.1m last year, marginally down on the €56.5m cost in 2010.

Along with payments to lawyers in the criminal legal aid scheme, there are also witness expenses costs and interpretation costs.

A statement from the Department of Justice last night stated that “the nature of the scheme is that it is demand-led and is driven by the incidence of crime, detection rates and prosecution of cases through the courts system. While this makes it difficult to control costs, minister Alan Shatter has to manage the limited funds available to his department across all areas of the criminal justice system, including criminal legal aid”.

The department confirmed a number of cost-reduction measures were implemented in 2011, including: A 10% reduction in fees and rates payable to legal practitioners under the criminal legal aid scheme; re-structuring of district court fees; a reduction of 50% for payments in travel and subsistence; and a reduction in the rate paid for sentence fees in respect of adjourned sentence hearings in the circuit and higher courts by 50%.

The department said: “It should be noted that these measures came into effect during the third and fourth quarters of 2011 so their full effect will not be apparent until 2012.”

Senior counsel receive a brief fee of €1,716 for taking on cases in the circuit court and a refresher fee of €858. For murder cases in the Central Criminal Court, senior counsel receive a brief fee of €7,127 and a refresher fee of €1,562.

The top earning barrister through the scheme, for the second year running, was Limerick-based Brian McInerney, who received €428,191.

Highest earners

* 1. Frank A Buttimer — €889,659.65.

* 2. Yvonne Bambury — €789,364.49.

* 3. Michael E Hanahoe — €776,168.42.

* 4. Cahir O’Higgins — €762,510.92.

* 5. John E Feaheny — €710,316.13.

* 6. John M Quinn — €580,282.13.

* 7. Edmund J Burke — €507,992.95.

* 8. Áine M Flynn — €475,368.26.

* 9. Kevin Tunney — €462,926.32.

*10. Michael J Staines — €452,346.71.

* 11. Jenny McGeever — €433,366.82.

* 12. Ted McCarthy — €427,119.23.

* 13. Michael Philip Hannon — €413,121.39.

* 14. Michael Kelleher — €394,451.75.

*15. Michael Hennessy — €358,864.68.

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