Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (186)

Clare Daly

Question:

186. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No.149 of 27 March 2014, why the requested information was not in fact furnished (details supplied) and if he will rectify this situation. [15630/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The initial request for information from the Deputy was made by way of Parliamentary Question Number 150 of 30 January 2014. The Deputy's question specifically asked for "the fee rate for each fee type for senior counsel, junior counsel and solicitors ...". The question did not specify that what was requested were fee tables from the payments systems. Following on from the reply to the question, the Deputy was sent lists of the rates payable as provided to my Department by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions where the fee rates are set. Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) (Amendment) Regulations 1976 (S. I. No. 234 of 1976) provide for parity between the fees payable to defence counsel and those payable to prosecution counsel.

On 27 March 2014 the Deputy raised Parliamentary Question Number 152 asking for the provision of all fee rate tables from the computer systems that calculate the amount payable to senior counsel, junior counsel and solicitors in the Circuit Court and Central Criminal Court for the period 1996 to 2014 under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. By way of reply I advised the Deputy that I was informed by the Financial Shared Services of my Department that its computer system is not programmed in such a way as to produce fee rate tables as requested.

Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) (Amendment) Regulations 1978 (S. I. No. 33 of 1978) provide that fees for solicitors are calculated as a percentage of fees for counsel. The list of rates paid to counsel received in my Department from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is forwarded to the Financial Shared Services to enable them to calculate payments to both counsel and solicitors. This is the format in which information on the fees payable to counsel and solicitors under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme is maintained in the Department. If the Deputy has further specific queries on this matter I will be happy to consider them.