Legal Services Regulation Act, 2015
Since the retirement of Master Declan O’Neill in June 2019, Master Paul Behan was the sole Taxing Master operating within the State. However, on 7thOctober 2019 the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charles Flanagan formally commenced Part 10 of the Legal Services Regulation Act, 2015. The commencement of this Act established the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators which takes over all functions of the Taxing Masters Office. In addition, Mr Paul Behan was appointed Chief Legal Costs Adjudicator along with Dr Niall O’Hanlon as Legal Costs Adjudicator. It is understood that a third Legal Costs Adjudicator is to be appointed in due course.
However the most significant changes to pre-existing legislation are as follows:-
- Establishment of the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator.
- Guidelines and Register of Determinations to be maintained.
- Solicitor cannot mark a percentage of damages unless liquidated sum.
- Automatic two-thirds allowance for Junior Counsel is officially prohibited.
- Solicitor’ advice on costs “likely to be understood by the client”.
- An Agreement may now be made between a Solicitor and client but can be examined by the Legal Costs Adjudicator.
- A Solicitor may now refer Solicitor and own client costs for adjudication after 30 days has expired from service and not later than 12 months.
- The Client cannot refer the bill to the LCA after 6 months from service.
- If a Solicitor and client agree to reduce the Bill, it cannot thereafter be referred to the Legal Costs Adjudicator.
- 15% Rule replaces 1/6 Rule for Solicitor and own client adjudication
- Adjudication will continue with oral hearings in public (except where appropriate such as Family Law).
- Parties can consent to no oral hearing.
- The Legal Costs Adjudicator may refer a question of law to the High Court.
- Qualified privilege now applies to adjudication.