Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Question 35: To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the actions he will take to reduce costs to local businesses in view of the fact that the legal system is now 12% more expensive then it was in 2006 and that Ireland is now the fourth most expensive location for fees. [21146/11]
I am keen to ensure that all costs that impact on businesses, including legal costs, are kept as low as possible in order to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises in Ireland. Improved competitiveness will help businesses to retain existing jobs, create new ones, and contribute to economic recovery.
The National Competitiveness Council monitors and analyses costs and other competitiveness issues in the Irish economy. The "Costs of Doing Business in Ireland 2011" report published last month, shows that Ireland has regained some of its international cost competitiveness which is now at a level comparable to prices in February 2003. It also pointed to sectors where challenges to our competitiveness remain, including tackling legal costs. The report shows that Ireland is the fourth most expensive location of 18 benchmarked countries for the legal cost of contract enforcement. The countries benchmarked include a number of EU countries, as well as Korea, the US, China, Singapore and India.
The cost of legal services has been consistently cited by both the NCC and the Competition Authority in recent years as uncompetitive, and they point out that the delivery of legal services in Ireland is in need of reform. It is for this reason we made the commitment in the Programme for Government to establish independent regulation for the legal professions to improve access and competition, to make legal costs more transparent and to ensure adequate procedures for addressing consumer complaints.
My colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter T.D., is in the process of preparing a Legal Services Bill, due to be published in the autumn, which will address these issues. I will continue to liaise closely with Minister Shatter on this matter to ensure the better regulation of legal services that will lead to greater transparency in costs and increase competition in the sector.