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Business is Business

With the Irish economy in retreat (recession), lawyers will still find a need for their services.

In truth, there is probably a large core of business for Irish lawyers, regardless of the state of the economy. (And that takes no account of the possibility of duplicating the activities of Allen & Overy).

The real issue is not the availability of work, but the financing of the work.

Ireland has seriously handicapped its legal profession, relative to the UK. There, it is possible, under Conditional Fee Agreements (“CFAs”), to recover double (say) the standard fee in court taxation if the lawyers have agreed to act on a “no win, no fee” basis.

In Ireland no such official arrangement exists.

Of course the real loser from the State’s failure is the Irish citizen. At very little cost to the State, it could empower victims to defend their interests and vindicate their rights in fields as diverse as defamation and personal injury litigation.

The legal basis, in the UK, for CFAs is s.58 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, as substituted by s.27(1) of the Access to Justice Act 1999, the Conditional Fee Agreements Regulations 2000 (SI 2000 No 692), amended by the Conditional Fee Agreement (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (SI 2003 No 1240) and the Conditional Fee Agreement (Revocation) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No 2305).

Under the Regulations, the plaintiff client will become liable for fees only if he/she:

a) fails to co-operate with the legal representative;

b) fails to attend any medical or expert examination or court hearing which the legal representative reasonably requests him to attend;

c) fails to give necessary instructions to the legal representative; or

d) withdraws instructions from the legal representative.

This failure by the Irish State is particularly glaring in the light of the fact that there are, currently, proceedings at hearing, in Dublin, intermittently, which potentially, if not actually, are financed by CFAs.

Those proceedings are the Omagh civil action arising out of the bombing of Omagh.

Why should Omagh be different to Dublin?