Nothing sets people off on a rant quicker than the subject of legal fees.
After over 27 years practising family law my own solicitor regularly reminds me that litigation fees are a very contentious subject. So know this, if you are struggling to get to grips with the costs of litigation, you are not alone.
In their 2010 analysis of the Irish economy the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) singled out the Irish legal profession as being one of several “sheltered sectors”. The European Commission continues to recommend that the Irish government act to reduce the cost of legal proceedings and make the sector more efficient.
The Legal Services Bill of 2011 will provide for better regulation and clarity in this area.
Alas, seven years after it was written, this law has not yet been enacted. It sits, ready, waiting for the minister for Justice to bring into operation. You can read more about it here.
In the mean time we must work with what we have in order to navigate our legal proceedings with minimum cost and stress.
The law covering legal fees in Ireland is called Section 68, Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994. A solicitor must give you the following information in writing, regarding his/her fees
- the actual charge or
- an estimate of the charge or
- the basis on which fees are charged
The Law society of Ireland have a very useful leaflet on their website with information about legal fees in Ireland, you can access it here.
Based upon my own experiences with a legal separation, I have put together some advice on how to navigate your legal fees during this difficult period, you can read it here Five steps to help you with your legal fees when getting divorced