Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Questions (52)

Pearse Doherty


52. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount of legal fees, and the companies and firms to which the fees have been paid, disaggregated by amount of fees paid to each firm, in the appeal case regarding the 2016 ruling by the Competition Commissioner on illegal state aid in respect of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46687/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Ireland has never accepted the Commission’s analysis in the Apple State aid Decision and is challenging the Commission's decision before the European Courts.

An application to annul the Commission Decision was lodged with the General Court of the European Union. The case was granted priority status and the confidential written proceedings have taken place in private over the last number of years. The oral hearing took place in the General Court of the European Union on 17th and 18th September. The timing of the judgement is entirely at the discretion of the Court. However it will most likely be several years before the case is ultimately concluded.

Ireland fully respects the judicial process and as can be expected, throughout this process Ireland has robustly defended its position. An overview of the main arguments made has been placed on my Department's website. As this is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings I cannot comment further on the State's legal case.

Notwithstanding our position that there was no State aid granted, the Irish authorities have engaged fully with the European Commission throughout the State aid investigation, including in relation to the legal obligation to recover the alleged aid. This involved the complex process of the establishment of an escrow fund in compliance with all relevant Irish constitutional and European Union law requirements.

Over the past seven years approximately €7.5 million (including VAT) has been paid for external services relating to the case, of which approximately €3.9 million relates to the recovery process. This includes all legal costs, consultancy fees and other associated costs. These fees have been paid by the Department of Finance, Revenue Commissioners, NTMA, Central Bank of Ireland, Attorney General’s Office and Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

The cost of legal fees is lower than the total cost as other fees are not included, such as in relation to translation services.

There are five companies covered by your question regarding the legal fees and the companies and firms to which the fees have been paid, and the totals paid to date to each of these, inclusive of VAT, are approximately as follows:

- William Fry: €3.2 million

- McCann Fitzgerald: €523,000

- PWC: €611,000

- Baker McKenzie: €148,000

- Hogan Lovells: €3,900

For completeness, the total paid to external Counsel engaged is approximately €2.8 million. As the Deputy will be aware, while I previously provided detail of payments made to individual Counsel, I am not now in a position to provide such details arising from legal advices provided to my Department.

I would also say that it is not possible to determine future costs of the case. However, as it is an important matter for the State, the case will continue to be resourced as appropriate.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 38.