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Drive to Lower Legal Costs

26th February, 2021

We welcome the news from The Minister that it is government’s intention to work on reducing legal costs so access to justice is open to everyone.

A plan for reduced legal fees, as well as reduced insurance costs, are set out in a Department of Justice strategy document, launched yesterday morning by Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

The minister said that improved access to justice means driving down costs though reduced legal fees.

New scales of legal costs are set to be drawn up to give more certainty to those taking court actions.

Suitable approaches

The Department of Justice is to begin identifying suitable approaches to establishing the scales.

“Not knowing how much legal proceedings could ultimately cost currently acts as a barrier to accessing justice and is damaging to our economy and competitiveness,” the minister said.

The departmental reform strategy will support Ireland’s “economy and society through regulatory, licensing and civil law reform”.

The strategy document says that legal costs are “prohibitive” and act as a barrier to people to exercising their rights before the courts, with a knock-on effect on the economy and on competitiveness, such as in the cost of buying a house, enforcing a contract, or purchasing insurance.

Scale

“The introduction of new scales of legal costs will bring down such costs and provide greater certainty on what people can expect to pay for legal services,” the document says.

The department will assess if scales should be binding, except in limited circumstances, and reforms will be focused on the needs of court users.

The introduction of pre-action protocols will facilitate early resolution of claims and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms will be promoted.