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Court imposes major reduction to solicitor's fees in Fr Reynolds v RTE case

The Taxing Master of the court took into account the nature of the case but also the economic downturn and the “consequential decrease in professional fees”.

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FOLLOWING A DECISION by the Taxing Master at the High Court, the solicitor acting for Fr Kevin Reynolds in his case against RTÉ will have his instruction fees cut from the sought amount of €275,000 to just €80,000.

The ruling was made by Declan O’Neill following submissions by both parties in the case – RTÉ and Fr Reynolds who was defamed in its Prime Time Investigates programme Mission to Prey last May.

The Taxing Master, who assesses the fair and reasonable amount that one party has to pay to the other side after litigation, said he had taken into account the nature of the case, including any complexities and important issues arising from it.

The time engaged in carrying out the legal work was also a “very relevant factor” to be considered, he said in his judgement. O’Neill said attendance notes would have been of help to him to decide on costings but solicitor Robert Dore was unable to provide them. Although he admitted this was remiss of him, he pointed to the pressures he was under as the action had to be taken in the shortest possible time period.

The Taxing Master accepted this explanation and said “it is evident that the solicitor at all times acted to ensure the action was brought to a speedy resolution”.

Dore & Company worked on the case between 16 June 2011 and 17 November of the same year, a period of five months. Although there is no evidence that Mr Dore worked exclusively on the case, O’Neill believes that it was “at the forefront of his priorities”.

Recognising the seriousness of the allegations publicly broadcast by RTÉ, the Taxing Master said there was still a danger of over-emphasising it in the context of instructions fees for Mr Dore.

Putting his argument forward for the €275,000 estimate, Mr Dore said RTÉ’s valuation of his work at €44,570 was both “ludicrous” and “insulting”.

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After stating he was satisfied with instruction fees of €80,000 for Mr Dore, the Master ruled that the two senior counsel in the case should be paid €26,000 each, while the junior counsel should receive €20,000.

In coming to his decisions on fees, O’Neill said the current economic downturn and the consequential decrease in professional fees were factors.

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