Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

7:05 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

Subsection (1) provides that a witness whose good name is or maybe directly impugned in an inquiry may apply for costs in a Part 2 inquiry. The focus in relation to the recoupment of legal costs is on persons whose good name is at issue rather than other witnesses. The Oireachtas commission does not have a role in relation to the quantum of legal costs under the Bill. It does not make that decision. In accordance with section 48, a party who is due legal costs will apply to the Oireachtas commission for an adjudication on such costs by the parliamentary legal costs adjudicator. That adjudicator is somebody drawn from a panel of legal costs accountants willing to act as parliamentary cost adjudicators under section 41.

This panel will be drawn up by the Minister and the process therefore is independent of the Oireachtas commission. The parliamentary legal costs adjudicator has similar powers to the Taxing Master in the courts under section 42 of the Bill. In essence, a person whose good name is being impugned and who wishes to apply for costs will apply to the Oireachtas commission, which will refer the matter to the legal costs adjudicator. The legal costs adjudicator is that person drawn from a professional panel of legal cost accountants drawn up by me as Minister. Section 44(4) provides that a person may apply to the committee for a determination as to whether he or she is a person whose good name is likely to be at issue in the inquiry. This will enable people to make a preliminary assessment as to whether he or she is likely to be entitled to recoup expenses or costs.


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