Written Answers. - Tribunals of Inquiry.

Noel Ahern

Question:

118 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government when the Flood tribunal was set up; the number of days it has sat to date in private and public sessions; its staff complement by category, for example, legal and administrative; the daily rate for each legal representative employed to include those acting for witnesses; the estimated cost per day for the tribunal; the estimated cost paid or due to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22102/99]

The Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments was appointed by instrument of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government dated 4 November 1997 as amended by Instrument dated 15 July 1998.

As at 2 November 1999, the tribunal had sat 20 days in private session and 108 days in public session.

Current staff complement of the Tribunal is 18. This is set out in the following table:

Legal Team

AdministrativeTeam

Senior Counsel

3

Junior Counsel

2*

Solicitor

1

Legal Researcher

1

Registrar

1

Office Manager

1

Clerical Officer

4

Administrative Assistant

2

Legal Secretary

2

Services Officer

1

Total

8

11

*1 Junior Counsel has recently become a Senior Counsel
The following fees are those sanctioned by the Department of Finance for Senior and Junior Counsel to the Flood Tribunal; Junior Counsel fees are in brackets: Brief fee – £25,000, £16,500; Daily refresher, sitting days – first 30 days – £1,450, £950; next 20 days – £1,400, £925; thereafter – £1,350, £900. Daily refresher, non-sitting days – £1,350, £900 per day. Parts of such days to be paid on the basis of an eight hour day at £165 per hour for Senior Counsel and £110 for Junior Counsel.
The Solicitor to the Tribunal is paid a daily rate of £400 per day. Up to 29 October 1999 the Tribunal had the services of a solicitor seconded from the Chief State Solicitor's Office and whose salary was borne by that office. The legal researcher is paid a daily rate of £350.
Following a recent request from the Tribunal the daily rates of pay for the solicitor and legal researcher to the tribunal are being reviewed.
Total expenditure by my Department in relation to the tribunal up to 2 November 1999 was £4,559,319.98. The average daily cost of the tribunal since it was established on 4 November 1997, including weekends, holidays and the initial set up period before the Tribunal commenced work, is therefore £6,262.80, 728 days.
The total cost of the tribunal cannot be estimated at this stage as this depends on when the tribunal finalises its business and on whether Mr. Justice Flood makes any order with regard to costs of witnesses. Mr. Justice Flood has made no such order to date. Pending any such order, my Department has no information on the legal costs of witnesses.