548. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Justice if she will address a series of matters in relation to fees provided to criminal barristers (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43414/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): As the Deputy may be aware, responsibility for fee restoration rests with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. However, that being said, I wish to reassure you that my Department has been actively engaging with all relevant stakeholders, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to resolve this matter.
Under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme my Department is responsible for the payment of legal fees to defence counsel in the Circuit and Higher Courts only and not the District court. The fees are paid in parity with the fees paid by the DPP to prosecution counsel. This parity arrangement is provided for by the Criminal justice (Legal Aid) Amendments Regulations 1976 (S.I. No. 234 of 1976). There is no fee structure for paying defence counsel in the District Court as it is not the norm for a barrister to appear for a client in the District Court. On the rare occasion where the Court does direct a barrister to appear for a client in the District Court the fees payable are as set out for the solicitors in SI 234/1976.
Fees paid to solicitors in the District Court are set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of Regulation S.I. No. 362/2011. There is no fee of €25.20 under the criminal legal aid fee structure.
Finally, I would like to reassure the Deputy that the issue of fee restoration is under consideration by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and will be examined further in the context of wider public pay policy and expenditure implications.