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Solicitor lodges objection to Taxing Master's major reduction in costs - Irish Times Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Irish Times - Saturday, July 3, 2010

Solicitor lodges objection to Taxing Master's major reduction in costs


AN OBJECTION was lodged last week to the cutting of solicitors’ and barristers’ fees by the Taxing Master in a case where he reduced the overall bill by 82 per cent.

Taxing Master Charles Moran reduced the overall bill for the case from €2.143 million to €393,472 in a ruling on June 10th. Factory worker Declan O’Brien was the plaintiff in the case and the defendant was the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. Mr O’Brien suffered an injury when working in a meat factory and was represented in his personal injury claim by solicitors firm Patrick V Boland in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

Denis Boland, of Patrick V Boland Son, instructed his cost accountant to lodge an objection to the Taxing Master’s ruling, which was done on June 24th.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Boland said the solicitor had yesterday instructed his cost accountant not to pursue the objection on behalf of the four barristers involved. In his June 10th ruling, Mr Moran described the costs as “revolting in the extreme” and said that despite the “excellent efforts” of the representative of Connolly Lowe, legal costs accountants for Mr O’Brien’s side, to make a case for the costs as marked, the exercise had “failed dismally”.

He said having regard to the submissions made by Connolly Lowe and, for the PIAB, Behan Associates and “taking into account the importance, novelty and uniqueness of the application itself, I can still find no justification for the level of fees claimed”.

Yesterday sources close to the barristers said the ruling given by Mr Moran on June 10th last was a “draft ruling” and the Taxing Master certificate would not be issued until the objection had been processed.

The lodgement of an objection was a standard part of the process, the sources said. The barristers will not be appealing the Taxing Master’s final decision to the High Court.On June 10th, barristers Paul Gardiner SC and Harry Whelehan SC had their claims for High Court brief fees reduced to €25,000 each from €110,000 each. Dan Boland BL had his brief fee claim of €75,000 reduced to €16,670 and Cormac McNamara BL had his brief fee claim of €75,000 reduced to zero. Patrick V Boland Son had its instruction fee reduced to €86,000 from €975,000.

The Supreme Court instruction fee for the solicitors was reduced to €46,000 from €100,000. Mr Gardiner’s brief fee for the Supreme Court was reduced to €30,000 from €100,000, while Mr McNamara’s was reduced to €20,000 from €75,000 claimed.

The objection lodged last week argues that the reductions in the High Court brief fees for Mr Gardiner, Mr Whelehan and Mr Boland were excessive and likewise the solictor’s instruction fee. There was no objection lodged to the reduction of Mr McNamara’s fee to zero. In relation to the Supreme Court the objection is in relation to Mr Gardiner and Mr McNamara’s fees, and the solicitor’s instruction fee. The objection describes the fee allowed for the solicitor in the High Court as “wholly inadequate”.

The objection to the Taxing Master argues that he did not take enough regard to the nature and importance of the case. The case involved Mr O’Brien’s right to have the PIAB deal with his solicitor rather than directly with him. He won in both the High Court and the Supreme Court. The Law Society was an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case and paid its own fees.

The case came up for mention before the Taxing Master yesterday and he set October 6th as the date for the case to be heard. He directed that detailed written submissions be lodged in regard to the objections. He also directed written submissions be produced on the indemnity principle and the extent of Mr O’Brien’s liability as regards the payment of the original fees sought.

It is understood Mr Moran wants more information about Mr O’Brien’s role in the fee issue.

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