The Lawyer Inquiry: Alan Wiseman

The Taxing Master of the Irish High Court has gone against the country's Finance Minister by approving a £6m legal fees bill for a tribunal that lasted more than 200 days. The bill will be met by the taxpayer.

The tribunal was set up to investigate allegations of fraud, tax evasion and misuse of EU funds made by the World in Action television programme in 1991, against Goodman International, a leading Irish meat processor.

Goodmans was represented by the Dublin solicitors A&L Goodbody and was eventually awarded costs for the marathon 200-day hearing.

However, after calculation of fees, which topped £20m in total, Finance Minister Rauiri Quinn lambasted the amount awarded and appealed against the decision.

The total included more than £3m for A&L Goodbody, which Quinn described as "excessive", plus more than £550,000 to another Dublin firm and £900,000 for two senior and three junior counsel.

The appeal was dismissed by the High Court Taxing Master, who said Goodmans' costs were "reasonably incurred".

A&L Goodbody's total fee of £3.2m was broken down into: £3m calculated on an hourly basis; £100,000 for skill, knowledge, complexity and difficulty; and £100,000 for responsibility and effort.