Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality

Access to Justice and Legal Costs: Discussion (Resumed)

Dr. Brian Doherty:

Certainly, the Act under which we operate, and whose implementation we are tasked with, does not go as far as that and it is limited to section 150 notices. However, the section 150 notices, as they require the legal practitioner to outline in a very detailed and structured way what the costs have been to date and what costs will be incurred, are a useful step and a useful tool. While this might not have the complete transparency the Deputy is suggesting, it would allow consumers of legal services to shop around, in effect, and to compare one with the other. We have a responsibility under the Act, and the CCPC referred to this directly, to promote and disseminate information in regard to legal costs. While the Act does not then continue by providing us with powers to require legal practitioners to provide us with those costs, we can rely on the powers under section 73 in regard to complaints concerning legal costs. As the legal costs adjudicators register of decisions increases, we hope that will provide us with a mechanism to try to increase transparency.