Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ceisteanna (137, 138)

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

141 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the legal firms that were the ten highest earners for free legal aid services for each year in the ten year period 2002 to 2011; and the amount each firm was paid for each year. [23299/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice and Equality)

I can inform the Deputy that the provision of legal aid falls within two separate categories, i.e criminal legal aid and civil legal aid. Details in respect of each category are as follows:

Criminal Legal Aid

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 provides that free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the Act, the grant of legal aid entitles the applicant to the services of a solicitor and , in certain circumstances, up to two counsel, in the preparation and conduct of their defence or appeal. The assignment of lawyers or the granting of aid are matters for the Court and, as such, are handled by the judiciary.

While records and information on expenditure under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme provide details of fees paid to individual solicitors, they do not provide separate details of the names of their particular firms, if any. The ten highest earning solicitors under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme for the seven year period 2005 to 2011 (figures for earlier years are not readily available and the retrieval of relevant records would require a disproportionate use of resources) and the amount each solicitor was paid are as follows:

2011

Frank Buttimer

889,659

Yvonne Bambury

789,364

Michael Hanahoe

776,168

Cahir O’Higgins

762,510

John Feaheny

710,316

John Quinn

580,282

Edmund Burke

507,993

Aine Flynn

475,368

Kevin Tunney

462,926

Michael Staines

452,347

2010

Yvonne Bambury

920,529

Frank Buttimer

866,005

Michael Hanahoe

813,469

Cahir O’Higgins

796,778

Michael Staines

784,920

John Feaheny

752,727

John Quinn

714,034

Aine Flynn

482,329

Michael Hannon

476,455

Michael Kelleher

474,390

2009

Michael J. Staines

1,340,102

John Quinn

1,136,483

Yvonne Bambury

1,130,352

Cahir O’Higgins

1,127,727

Michael Hanahoe

1,053,518

Frank Buttimer

982,062

John Feaheny

858,151

Kevin Tunney

724,519

Michael Kelleher

606,972

Michael Hannon

572,633

2008

Michael J Staines

1,354,077

John Quinn

1,187,516

Yvonne Bambury

1,109,906

Frank Buttimer

945,760

Michael Hanahoe

925,496

John Feaheny

866,594

Cahir O’Higgins

669,084

Michael Hannon

642,831

Aine Flynn

620,922

Terence Hanahoe

562,355

2007

Michael J Staines

1,484,090

John Quinn

1,121,176

Yvonne Bambury

1,007,202

Michael Hanahoe

905,955

John Feaheny

717,928

Frank Buttimer

694,581

Aine Flynn

678,677

Michael Hannon

539,736

Terence Hanahoe

498,972

Michael Kelleher

476,945

2006

Michael J Staines

1,543,839

John Quinn

1,211,921

Michael Hanahoe

975,367

Aine Flynn

848,710

Yvonne Bambury

772,139

John Feaheny

736,314

Garrett Sheehan

592,621

Frank Buttimer

580,644

Michael Hannon

484,264

Diarmuid Kelleher

437,543

2005

Michael J Staines

1,373,558

Michael Hanahoe

841,943

John Quinn

830,007

Aine Flynn

815,680

Frank Buttimer

582,075

John Feaheny

547,585

Michael Hannon

547,407

Yvonne Bambury

545,789

Garrett Sheehan

542,807

Ted McCarthy

525,437

Civil Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Board (LAB) is the statutory body which provides legal aid and advice in civil law matters. All Board services are governed by the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations.

Again, the Deputy might wish to note that the relevant information in respect of civil legal aid is only readily available for the years 2007 to 2011 inclusive and that retrieval of earlier records would require a disproportionate use of resources. In the case of civil legal aid, records and information on expenditure under the Civil Legal Aid Scheme provide details of fees paid to both individual solicitors and to firms and in the case of the former details of their particular firms, if any, are not on record. The details are as follows:

2011

Doyle Fox and Associates

60,927

Kevin Tunney and Company

55,222

Carmody Moran

54,844

Eugene G. Smartt and Co.

52,979

Sandra McAleer

52,943

Doyle Solicitors

47,825

Burns Nowlan Solrs

42,848

Sean Mulvihill and Co Solrs

36,779

James Watters and Co.

35,530

John A. Sinnott and Co.

34,318

2010

Eugene G. Smartt and Co.

95,981

Eamonn Bennett

63,141

James Watters and Co.

62,000

Maura Hurley

52,084

Carmody Moran

47,774

Peter Doyle Solrs

47,766

Burns Nowlan Solrs

47,209

Margaret Horan and Co.

45,884

Doyle Fox and Associates

44,442

Huggard Brennan and Murphy Solrs

42,654

2009

James Watters and Co.

123,606

Eugene G. Smartt and Co.

87,079

Carroll, Kelly, O’Connor Solrs

73,259

Peter Doyle Solrs

64,594

Doyle Fox and Associates

63,338

Kevin Tunney and Co.

59,100

Eamonn Bennett

49,178

John A. Sinnott and Co.

41,556

S.T. Glazier and Co.

41,028

Maura Hurley

40,765

2008

James Watters and Co.

80,943

Eugene G. Smartt and Co.

73,003

Maura Hurley

61,965

Margaret Horan and Co.

59,345

Huggard, Brennan and Murphy Solrs

50,656

John A. Sinnott and Co.

45,963

Kevin Tunney and Co.

31,614

Lynch and Partners

31,231

S.T. Glazier and Co.

31,052

2007

James Watters and Co.

82,266

Huggard, Brennan and Murphy Solrs

64,768

Augustus Cullen Law

55,083

Eamonn Bennett

54,668

Margaret Horan and Co.

53,258

Maura Hurley

52,650

Eugene G. Smartt and Co.

48,763

Carol A. Hickey Solr

44,218

D. M. Burke and Co.

31,881

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

142 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria to qualify for free legal aid; if he will provide in tabular form the total number of applications for the 10 years 2002 to 2011, on a county basis; the number of persons that qualified for free legal aid each year; the number refused each year; and the cost per year. [23300/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I wish to inform the Deputy that the provision of legal aid falls within two categories, i.e criminal legal aid and civil legal aid. The following is the position in respect of each category:

Criminal Legal Aid

Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, the Courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the Court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation him/herself. The Court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the gravity of the charge or exceptional circumstances, it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid.

I am informed that the number of applications and details of cases in which legal aid is refused is not readily available and the necessary search of records would require a disproportionate use of resources. The expenditure for each of the past 10 years is set out in the table below along with the number of legal aid certificates granted by the District Court

Year

Expenditure

Number of certificates Granted

2002

€28.880m

27,241

2003

€37.353m

30,060

2004

€34.140m

figure unavailable

2005

€40.208m

36,423

2006

€42.093m

41,582

2007

€46.365m

46,620

2008

€55.297m

55,265

2009

€60.338m

55,664

2010

€56.544m

55,412

2011

€56.116m

54,092

Civil Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Board (LAB) is the independent statutory body which provides legal aid in civil cases. I should however point out that civil legal aid is not free and clients of the Board are required to pay a contribution to avail of legal services and may be liable to pay the Board's costs in certain cases. The criteria for determining if a person qualifies for civil legal aid are set out in the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995, and accompanying Regulations. The two main criteria are the financial eligibility test and the merits test. In order to be financially eligible for legal services a person's disposable income cannot be over €18,000 and disposable capital cannot be over €320,000. The reckonable allowances to calculate disposable income and disposable capital are set out in the Regulations. The qualifying allowances are set out in detail on the Board's website, www.legalaidboard.ie.

In addition, the Act also specifies certain criteria to be met in respect of the merits and nature of the case. In brief, a person can only receive legal aid for a case that (s)he would be likely to pay for if (s)he had the means; the person must have grounds to institute/defend or be a party to the case; the person must have reasonable prospects of success in the case and the granting of legal aid must be reasonable in all of the circumstances of the case. In addition, certain types of cases are excluded under the Act. These merits criteria are set out in detail in Sections 24-28 of the Act, as amended.

Whilst I have made enquiries with the Board in respect of the statistical information requested, I am informed that it is not possible for the Board to provide all of the information sought in the format requested. Information which can be made available to the Deputy without placing an undue administrative burden on the Board is set out below. This includes the overall number of applications, the number of legal aid and advice cases handled in each year, the number of refusals and the cost to the Exchequer of providing the service. Applications on a county basis for 2010 and 2011 are also set out. The Deputy should note that this information does not include asylum cases.

In addition, I should point out to the Deputy that the Board's Annual Reports and Accounts are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas each year and these reports contain a significant amount of information in respect of the services provided by the Board.

Civil Legal Aid 2002-2011

Year

Applications

Legal Aid Cases

Legal Advice Cases

Refusals

Exchequer grant in aid (million)

2002

n/a

10,070

3,530

251

€17.636

2003

n/a

9,439

3,504

219

€18.389

2004

9,509

9,065

3,462

117

€18.388

2005

9,153

8,896

3,336

125

€21.362

2006

9,688

9,471

3,683

114

€21.913

2007

10,164

9,390

4,525

198

€24.288

2008

11,888

9,017

5,900

282

€26.310

2009

14,073

9,032

7,138

245

€26.310

2010

17,175

9,344

7,288

288

€24.225

2011

18,657

9,492

8,333

316

€24.125

Note: Legal aid and advice cases do not constitute new cases in each year, but the total number of cases dealt with. Refusals do not include those deemed financially ineligible.

Civil Legal Aid Applications by County 2010/11 (non-asylum)

2010

2011

Dublin

Blanchardstown

246

298

Brunswick Street

330

537

Clondalkin

264

376

Finglas

326

384

Gardiner Street

563

767

Medical Negligence Unit

80

72

District Court Centre

2,205

2,064

Tallaght

390

323

Cork

Popes Quay

1,000

1,063

South Mall

1,198

1,274

Cavan

233

280

Clare

630

732

Donegal

563

640

Galway

735

851

Kerry

584

610

Kildare

1,005

946

Kilkenny

653

790

Laois

410

555

Limerick

553

613

Longford

310

358

Louth

303

380

Mayo

414

366

Meath

437

456

Monaghan

313

376

Offaly

394

381

Sligo

346

356

Tipperary

568

477

Waterford

494

562

Westmeath

553

524

Wexford

521

588

Wicklow

554

658

Total

17,175

18,657