Lawyers hit by Irish government’s swingeing rate cuts

The Irish government has slashed legal fees by an unprecedented two-thirds for lawyers involved in tribunals.

The cuts were imposed on 19 July by Charlie McCreevy, the Republic’s former finance minister, who stepped down a few days after the announcement. McCreevy said even after the reductions senior barristers will still earn seven times the average industrial wage.

Under the changes, senior counsel will see daily rates drop from €2,500 (£1,650) to €969 (£640). But even with the cutbacks, it is expected that taxpayers in the Republic will foot a £292m legal bill for tribunals and inquiries by the end of the year.

The dramatic reduction is far higher than even the swingeing cuts of around 20 per cent imposed by Westminster on criminal barristers’ fees in England and Wales earlier this year.

Originally the UK Treasury had sought to impose higher cuts, but agreed to a compromise on 25 June after the English criminal bar went on strike for the first time in its history.

The new rates, due to come into force in the Republic on 1 September, will be similar to the salaries of Irish High Court judges, but will also include an extra 15 per cent to cover pension contributions.