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€139 million paid out in barrister fee’s by the state since 2002

It has emerged today that the Attorney General has paid out a massive €139 million to barristers over the last ten years.  The figures that have been released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that two barristers were paid €3.2 million, seven made between €2 and €3 million and a 27 other barristers earned between €1 and €2 million for working on behalf of the Attorney General.

The figures date between January 2002 and August of 2013. The statistics show that the legal area of asylum was the busiest area for the attorney general’s office and accounted for 23% of all of its cases over the past ten years. Barristers who specialise specifically in asylum cases have been revealed as the highest earners, some of who were being paid up to an astonishing €500,000 per annum to represent the State.

The database does also show that fees did fall substantially since Ireland was hit by the recession. The yearly spend reached a peak of €17.8 million in 2008 and has been in decline since then. The top earners are not a reflection of all barristers. The statistics show that the majority of barristers who are employed by the attorney’s office are paid small amounts in comparison to the high earners. Of the 333 attorneys that did appear on the 2012 list, 24 of them earned more than €100,000, and about two-thirds of those on that list were paid less than €20,000.

David Nolan, who is the chairman of the bar council maintains that any assessment of barristers income from the State has to take into account of the 50% cut in fees over the past five years.  He believes that the Attorney General’s office should distribute the work among as many practitioners as possible.  He stated “The State should have in place a system where as many barristers as possible are briefed in these types of cases, that spreads around the expertise and spreads around the income.”


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