Revealed: scale of abuse inquiry legal billAdded on August 6, 2007
Revealed: scale of abuse inquiry legal bill
By Conor Ryan
THE first indications of the multi-million euro legal bill from the commission investigating child abuse in State institutions have emerged.
Previously unreleased figures given to the Irish Examiner show the Commission to Inquire in Child Abuse has paid solicitors ?5 million already this year. More than half this figure went to the top five earning companies, with one receiving ?889,732.
The Department of Education has sanctioned costs of ?18m in 2007 but this is just to clear straightforward bills. The commission expects the final figure to be ?sizeably bigger? when it begins calculating the more expensive cases.
It has been unable to produce an estimated total for the department because many bills have yet to be submitted.
In a briefing note, secretary to the commission, Brenda McVeigh, said the more complicated bills, particularly from solicitors representing abusers and institutions, are still to be examined.
?Technically, respondent costs do not yet arise as, while the commission still operates, it is possible that respondents can still be called to give evidence,? she said.
It is the first time the commission has begun paying costs as it begins to wind up its affairs after eight years. These costs are separate to the ?83.5mlegal bill that has already arisen from the Residential Institutions Redress Board, a different strand of the inquiry, which has yet to process half its cases.
The commission has a more investigative role leading to higher costs.
Solicitors have had to agree to delayed payment given the sheer volume of bills.
The commission expects the larger files to take more than a year to process ? one bill arrived in five separate lever-arch files.
Chairman of the Right of Place victims? group said Noel Barry said the huge costs could not be justified.
?I just think it is scandalous that you have solicitors getting paid from all sides.
?In some cases we have seen solicitors getting more out of cases than the victims,? he said.
04 August 2007