Information about judicial costs in Ireland is available on this page.
The basis on which fees are payable to solicitors may be categorised in terms of contentious business (i.e. advice and representation in respect of litigation before a court, tribunal or arbitrator) and non-contentious business. Insofar as contentious business is concerned, costs may be further categorised as solicitor and client costs (i.e. costs payable by the party to his or her solicitor) and party and party costs (i.e. costs which are awarded to one party to proceedings against another party to those proceedings).
Principal primary legislation*
Principal secondary legislation*
Principal primary legislation*
Solicitors’ Remuneration Act 1881.
Principal secondary legislation*:
* References to legislation are to the Act, Order or Rules concerned as amended. Post 1922 legislation may be viewed from the Irish Statute Book online and from the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
“Lawyers” describes collectively the two categories of lawyer within the Irish legal system, viz. solicitors and barristers.
Barristers fees are treated as a disbursement by the solicitor to whom they are invoiced, and as such are regarded as a disbursement by the solicitor and are regulated by the legislation governing solicitors’ fees and decisions of the courts concerning the allowance to be made for counsels’ fees: see, in particular section 27, Courts and Court Officers Act 1995 and Kelly v. Breen  I.L.R.M. 63; State (Gallagher Shatter & Co.) v. de Valera  2 I.R. 198; in Superquinn v. Bray U.D.C. (No. 2)  1 I.R. 459
The fees of the sheriff, court messenger and bailiffs for execution of execution orders of the court are regulated by the Sheriff's Fees and Expenses Order, 2005 and include provision for fees chargeable on lodgement of the execution order and poundage, expenses of travelling, removal and storage /safekeeping of goods or livestock seized.
There is no separate category of lawyer known as “advocate” in the Irish legal system.
With the exception of the items set out in Order 27 rule 1A(3) and rule 9 (costs payable by a party lodging a pleading after other party has brought application for judgment in default of lodgement of that pleading) and Appendix W, Rules of the Superior Courts and Schedule E, District Court Rules, costs items are generally discretionary.
Costs payable also include disbursements such as court fees, which are fixed by the Fees orders of the Supreme and High Court, Circuit Court and District Court, respectively.
Please find further information on court fee rates.
In the cases of Order 27 rule 1A(3) and rule 9 (costs payable by a party lodging a pleading after other party has brought application for judgment in default of lodgement of that pleading) , the costs are payable on striking out of the application for judgment in default of the pleading concerned.
The costs items set out in Appendix W, Rules of the Superior Courts, are recoverable:
The costs items set out in Schedule E, District Court Rules, are payable:
There are no fixed costs in criminal proceedings. No court fees are charged in criminal proceedings.
(The District Court, in summary criminal proceedings, may make an order for costs against a party except the Director of Public Prosecutions or a prosecuting police officer. The Circuit Court and Central Criminal Court (the courts having jurisdiction to try on indictment) have a discretion to award costs:
Jurisdiction in constitutional proceedings is confined to the High Court and Supreme Court. No special costs or fees regime applies to such proceedings. The fixed costs allowable in such proceedings are those provided for in Appendix W, Rules of the Superior Courts. Court fees payable are those fixed by the Supreme and High Court (Fees) Order.
Please find further information on court fee rates.
Court fees are generally payable on lodgement of the document concerned.
Section 68, Solicitors’ (Amendment) Act 1994 provides:
i) the client's right to require the solicitor to submit the bill of costs or any part thereof to a Taxing Master of the High Court for taxation on a solicitor and own client basis, and
ii) the client's right to make a complaint to the Society under section 9 of this Act that he has been issued with a bill of costs that he claims to be excessive.
Par. 12.6 of the Code of Conduct of the General Council of the Bar of Ireland provides:
“12.6 On the taking of instructions to provide legal services, or as soon as practicable thereafter, a barrister shall on request, provide to an instructing solicitor, or the client in the case of access under the Direct Professional Access Scheme, with particulars in writing confirming:
The format of any such particulars shall be at the discretion of each barrister.”
Please find the information on the website of the Taxing Master’s Office together with downloadable literature.
Information on cost sources in Ireland is available in English.
For further information on mediation please consult the website of the Family Support Agency.
Please find further information in the Courts Service Annual Reports.
Please refer to the website of the Irish Tax and Customs service.
The disposable income threshold in civil cases is €18,000, after giving fixed allowances in respect of dependants, accommodation, tax and social insurance payments.
The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme which is administered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform provides that free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. There is no set income threshold. An accused person is entitled to be informed by the court in which he/she is appearing of his/her possible right to legal aid. The grant of legal aid entitles the applicant to the services of a solicitor and, in certain circumstances, up to two counsel, in the preparation and conduct of his/her defence or appeal. The courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An application for legal aid may be made to the court either (a) in person or (b) by the applicant's legal representative or (c) by letter to the Court Registrar.
An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal aid him/herself. This is purely a discretionary matter for each court and is not governed by any financial eligibility guidelines. The court must also be satisfied that by reason of the 'gravity of the charge' or 'exceptional circumstances' it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. However, where the charge is one of murder or where an appeal is one from the Court of Criminal Appeal to the Supreme Court, free legal aid is granted merely on the grounds of insufficient means.
An applicant for free legal aid may be required by the court to complete a statement of means. It is an offence for an applicant to knowingly make a false statement or conceal a material fact for the purpose of obtaining legal aid. Such an offence carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment or both.
There is no disposable income threshold in relation to complainants in certain sexual violence cases who apply for legal aid from the Legal Aid Board in criminal cases where the prior sexual history of the complainant is to be raised in court by the defence.
Legal aid is automatically granted in respect of complainants in certain sexual violence cases. Any other victim must meet the same criteria as the general population.
There are no other conditions and no specific arrangements for minors.
There are exemptions to the payment of court fees in some circumstances including family law proceedings and certain cases relating to minors. For full details of the circumstances where court fees are not payable see fees orders and exemptions on the Courts Service website.
The award of costs is at the discretion of the courts. The exercise of that discretion has to be carried out in accordance with certain well established rules and principles derived from case law of the courts. For example, the primary rule is that costs follow the event, i.e., the losing party pays the winning party's costs. This is however subject to exceptions which will depend upon the circumstances of the case. For example the winning party may not get all of his costs if he has been considered by the court to have delayed or unnecessarily prolonged the proceedings or while winning the case may have lost on certain discrete issues within the case. In certain cases such as cases involving constitutional issues and raising matters in the public interest the losing party may obtain some or all of his costs.
In the case of civil legal aid, the Board establishes a scale of fees that it uses for various categories of experts. In addition, the Board retains discretion to use a special fee where the particular requirements of a case necessitate a particular or specialised expert to be engaged. In such cases, the fee is negotiated individually with the expert having regard to the work involved, the level of expertise required and the value of the case to the legally aided person.
In criminal cases where a legal aid certificate has been granted the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme extends to appropriate and reasonable expenses incurred by the defence solicitor including fees for expert witnesses.
In civil litigation generally, the fees of translators or interpreters are a matter to be fixed in the first instance between the translators/interpreters and the party to the litigation concerned. However, where that parties costs fall to be paid by another party by a decision of the court the fees paid to a translator/interpreter are subject to taxation (assessment) by the taxing master (i.e. legal costs assessor).
In any case involving civil legal aid, the Board undertakes a tender competition and selects from among the organisations that tender.
In criminal cases where a legal aid certificate has been granted the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme extends to appropriate and reasonable expenses incurred by the defence solicitor including fees for translation or interpretation.
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