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Terms and Conditions

1. Section 30(3)(a) of  the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 (“the Act”) provides that the Legal Aid Board (“the Board”) may establish and maintain a panel of solicitors who are willing to provide legal aid and advice to persons who are in receipt of legal services. 

2. The Board has now decided to establish and maintain a panel of solicitors who are willing to provide services to persons who have been granted a legal aid certificate by the Board for the purpose of   advice and representation in relation to any of the 8 categories of cases set out  in Section 60 (5) of the Coroners Act 1962 (inserted by Section 24(b) of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013). The categories of inquests are set out in paragraph 28 below.

3. The panel shall be known as the Private Practitioner  Coroners Inquest Panel (“the Panel”). 

4. Any solicitor wishing to have his or her name considered for entry on the Panel must apply in writing to the Board -  the application form

5. Any solicitor wishing to have his or her name considered for entry on the Panel must give an undertaking, in the application form to comply with:

i.    the provisions of  the Act and the Regulations made thereunder

ii.   the terms and conditions of the scheme and

iii.  any relevant guidelines or directions issued by the Board from time to time.      

6. Any solicitor wishing to  have his or her name considered for entry on the Panel must hold a current practising certificate from the Law Society of Ireland and must have professional indemnity insurance that is adequate for the purposes of the Scheme.  The current figure is €1.5 million in any one case, but the Board may revise this amount from time to time.

7. Solicitors  on the Panel must comply with the tax clearance procedures specified in the Department of Finance Circular 43/2006 entitled ‘Tax clearance Procedures-Public Sector Contracts’ or any such circular amending or replacing that circular.Admission to the Panel will be conditional on submission of a valid tax clearance certificate to the Board.

8. The Panel shall be in place for a period of three calendar years from the 1st April 2016 or from such other date or for such other period as the Board may determine.  The Board shall consider applications to be included on the Panel on an ongoing  basis throughout the period of  the operation of the panel.

9. Should the scheme be extended for a further period or periods, a solicitor who is a member of the panel on the expiry date of 28th of March 2019, shall be deemed to be a member of the new panel without the necessity to reapply. The solicitor shall remain a member of such new panel unless s/he withdraws from the panel or is removed or suspended from the panel.

10. Any solicitor wishing to have his/her name considered for entry on the Panel  must meet one of the following minimum requirements:

i. Have at least three years experience in advocacy before the Courts of Ireland or

ii. Have acted as an advocate in at least three inquests within the previous two years or

iii. Have experience as a trainer on matters relating to coronial law or practice within the previous two years or

iv. Have attended within the last year at a Law Society of Ireland accredited training event devoted to coronial law and practice for which the attendee has been awarded five or more hours CPD points

11. Solicitors on the Panel must have access to e-mail facilities and must have IT software that is compatible with Microsoft Office software in order to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the Scheme.

12. Solicitors must have access to a scanner and accompanying software capable of converting a paper file to Adobe PDF format. In addition it is Board policy that email communications concerning clients are encrypted for security purposes. Instructions for reading and replying to secure communications sent by the Board can be found here.

13. Solicitors shall  be expected to comply  with  guidelines issued by coroners in relation to the conduct of inquests  in particular, but not limited to, directions in relation to questioning of witnesses and addresses to juries. Where a solicitor decides not follow such guidelines the solicitor should note the specific reasons for not doing so on the client file.

14. Solicitors are expected to act in a fiduciary manner in relation to all legally aided clients and to provide a service in keeping with the Guides to Professional Conduct that are issued from time to time by the Law Society of Ireland. 

15. The Board is committed to the provision of a quality legal service to its clients and may  from time to time provide solicitors on the Panel with guidelines on the approach to be adopted in dealing with matters within the ambit of this Scheme.  Solicitors  on the Panel will  be  expected to broadly comply with such  Guidelines. Where a solicitor decides not follow such guidelines the solicitor should note the specific reasons for not doing so on the client file and notified to the Board.

16. Solicitors shall retain files of legally aided persons for a period of 6 (six) years from the date of completion of the services authorised on foot of the legal aid certificate.

17. The Board shall not be liable for payment of fees for counsel unless authorisation has been obtained by the solicitor from the Board in advance to engage Counsel. The Board shall only grant such authorisation where it is reasonable in all circumstances to grant the authorisation. The terms and conditions also provide for the retention of counsel in inquest cases.

In respect of each application, it will be necessary for the solicitor to set out clearly the reasons why counsel is considered necessary and a decision will be taken on the application by the appropriate authorised officer. Such reasons should be set out in correspondence to the Private Practitioner Section, Legal Aid Board, Quay St, Cahirciveen, Co.Kerry V23 RD36 or by email to ppunit@legalaidboard.ie

The barrister so engaged must be a member of the Board's Barrister's Panel and the fees that authorised to be paid are set out below. The solicitor is required to certify on the barrister's claim form that the services provided are as claimed by the barrister. It is a requirement that where counsel is briefed, the solicitor must satisfy himself/herself that counsel has the necessary experience and training to carry out the work in accordance with the requirements of the scheme and also that the barrister is briefed in good time and provided with all information relevant to the inquest in a timely manner. The solicitor remains responsible for the quality of the legal service and representation provided.

18. Decisions by the Board to refuse authorization for retention of counsel shall be subject to the relevant review and appeal procedures contained in the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2013 (Regulation 12 Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996)

19. A solicitor on the Panel shall provide the Board with any information relating to a person in receipt of legal aid, which is required by the Board for the purpose of enabling the Board to discharge its functions under the Act. Such information shall be furnished within 14 (fourteen) days of any such request. 

20. As part of its commitment to ensuring that its clients receive a quality service, the Board requires that solicitors shall at the conclusion of each inquest furnish the Board with a report as set out here consisting of :

i. A short summary of the services provided to the legally aided person

ii. A note on any issues that arose in the inquest that the solicitor considers of particular relevance

iii. Any recommendations that the solicitor has in relation to how the scheme could in his/her view be improved based on the experiences in the particular inquest.

21. The Board may also review a number of files of legally aided clients so as to satisfy itself that the solicitor on the Panel is providing an appropriate level of service. In the event that that review identifies issues of concern in relation to the provision of an appropriate level of service, the Board shall inspect any or all legally aided client files assigned to that solicitor.

22. The Board may suspend or remove a solicitor from the Panel if it considers that:

  • the solicitor’s conduct when providing or selected to provide legal services or his/her professional conduct generally render him or her unsuitable, in the opinion of the Board, to provide such services; 
  • the solicitor has failed to comply with these Terms and Conditions;
  • the solicitor has not participated in the Scheme to a satisfactory level, including but not confined to his/her refusal on a regular basis to accept a legally aided person as a client or to give a client appropriate legal advice or aid; or
  • the solicitor has a medical condition that would render him or her unfit to provide the required service.  The Board reserves the right to require medical evidence from a solicitor or to refer a solicitor to a medical practitioner in order to confirm their fitness in this respect;

23. If the Board decides to suspend or remove a solicitor from the Panel, the solicitor shall be notified in writing of the grounds for the decision. The solicitor may, within a period of one month from the date of such notification, appeal in writing the decision to the Chief Executive of the Board, setting out the grounds of appeal in full.  The Chief Executive may restore the solicitor, if satisfied that a case for restoration to the Panel is made out.  Any appeal does not operate to delay or negate the suspension or removal of the solicitor from the Panel, unless the Chief Executive determines otherwise.

24. Solicitors who wish to withdraw from the Panel must inform the Board, in writing, of their intention to do so.  Solicitors shall give one month’s notice of intention to withdraw from the Panel.  Solicitors  who withdraw from the Panel must complete all outstanding inquests that have been referred to them unless the Board consents to the matter being referred to another solicitor.

25. The Panel shall be maintained in alphabetical order on a national basis by the Board’s Head Office and shall comprise the names of all solicitors  whose applications for placement have been accepted by the Board. A copy of the panel shall be provided to the Coroners Service Implementation Team office.

26. The names of solicitors on the panel may be placed on the Board’s website (www.legalaidboard.ie). The list of panel members will be updated by the Board on a regular basis.

27. Solicitors on the panel shall be entitled to appear in any coroner’s inquest in the State where a Legal Aid Certificate has been granted for such an inquest.  

28. The Panel shall apply in relation to persons where, following a request by a coroner to the Board under Section 60(4) of the Coroners Act 1962, legal advice or legal aid has been granted by the Board in connection with an inquest.

29. A Legal Aid Certificate issued to a person for representation at any inquest set out under paragraph 28 above shall also include representation by the nominated solicitor at any substantive mention hearing held by a coroner where the coroner certifies that the holding of the mention hearing was necessary to establish the scope and issues to be heard at the inquest.

30. Persons seeking legal services in respect of a coroners inquest  as provided under section 60(1) of the Coroners Act 1962 must make their applications  for legal representation to a coroner.

31. If a request for legal services under Section 60 (4) of the Coroners Act 1962 is subsequently made by a coroner to the Board  that a named  person be provided with legal services under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 the named person must additionally  satisfy the requirements in respect of  financial eligibility specified in Section 29 of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995  and in Regulations made under Section 37 of the said Act and pay to the Board a contribution towards the cost of providing the legal services determined in accordance with regulations under Section 37. 

32. On receipt of the request for legal services  under Section 60 (4) of the Coroners Act 1962 from a coroner the Private Practitioner Section will write without delay to the named family member requesting that they attend at a Law Centre for financial assessment and advise them of the address of their nearest Law Centre. 

33. In respect of an urban areas where there is more than one Law Centre (currently the cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway) the Board may require that the named family member be financially assessed at a particular Law Centre in the relevant urban area.

34. In the event that the family member is granted a legal aid certificate for the  inquest, the Private Practitioner Section shall forward him/her a copy of the panel of solicitors. He/she may choose any solicitor from the panel. A solicitor who is not within reasonable travelling distance of the coronial court where the inquest is to be held may refuse to accept instructions and refer the person to another solicitor on the panel willing to accept instructions in the case. Travelling and subsistence costs will not be reimbursed to  solicitors by  the Board under the scheme.

35. The Private Practitioners Section will notify a coroner who has made a request under Section 60 (4) of the dates on which:

i. the named family member was financially assessed and whether that person was financially eligible for legal services under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995

ii. the named family member was issued with a Legal Aid Certificate or notified that s/he was financially ineligible

36. The legally aided person shall furnish the solicitor s/he has selected from the panel with two (2) copies of the legal aid certificate which will indicate the legally aided person's name, and the location of the inquest.

37. The solicitor shall immediately on receipt of the Legal Aid Certificate

  • Notify the Private Practitioner Section that s/he has been instructed by the  legally aided person
  • Notify the coroner who made the request under Section 60(4) that s/he has been instructed by the legally aided person.

38. The legal aid certificate shall be the solicitor’s authority to provide legal aid to the client under this Scheme.  One copy of the certificate should be retained by the solicitor on the client file. The second copy of the certificate should be attached to the Claim Form for payment of the fee, and any approved outlay, when the case is concluded.

39. Legal services cannot be provided under the Scheme without a valid legal aid certificate. 

40.  The service to be provided shall include but not be limited to:

i. arranging a first consultation with the client and taking instructions

ii. advising the client on coronial practice and procedure generally and the specific  scope of inquests  and in particular that the purpose of an inquest is :

a)  To determine the medical cause of death

b)  To allay rumours or suspicion

c)  To draw attention to circumstances which, if not remedied, might lead to further deaths

d)  To advance medical knowledge

e)  To preserve the legal interests of the deceased person’s family, heirs or other interested parties

iii. advising the client of the inquisitorial nature of an inquest

iv. advising the client as to the prohibition of consideration of civil or criminal liability at an inquest under Section 30 of the  Coroners Act 1962 and that an inquest is confined to ascertaining the identity of the person in respect of whose death the inquest is being held and as to how when and where the death occurred.

v. advising the client as to the prohibition of censure and exoneration of persons under Section 31(1) of the Coroners Act 1962

vi. advising the client as to the type of questioning and the issues that may arise at the inquest

vii. ascertaining whether an interpreter is required for the client’s benefit at the inquest and if so seeking specific details in relation to language and dialect;

viii. considering what if any witnesses may be required. The client must be advised that only the coroner has the authority to call a witness  at an inquest and s/he first examines that witness and that the coroner retains final discretion in relation to questions that may be put to the witness by a person with a proper interest or by their legal representative.

ix. considering relevant reports. Depending on the location of the death one or more  reports may need to be considered by a legal representative in preparation for an inquest which may include abstracts or redacted versions of an official report.

x. cooperating fully with the coroner in the conduct of the inquest and adhering to such directions as may be made by the coroner in relation to matters arising at the inquest.

xi. attending at the inquest and such mention days as certified.

41. If a solicitor considers that further steps that will incur expenditure are required to assist in the preparation for the inquest, over and above those authorised on the certificate, an application must be made in writing to the Board seeking an amendment to the certificate to incur such expenditure. 

42. Any such application should provide sufficient information, particularly in relation to how the additional expenditure is likely, to advance the purpose of the inquest having regard to the facts to be established, and to enable the terms of the Act to be complied with by the Board when considering the application. Any such application should be made prior to the commencement of the inquest to the Private Practitioner Services Section Legal Aid Board, Quay St, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry, V23 RD36 or by email ppunit@legalaidboard.ie.

43.  The engaging of an interpreter, where it is necessary in a particular inquest, shall be included in the authority and no amendment shall be required before doing so. However only the interpreter company with which the Board has a contract may be engaged for this purpose and a completed interpreter form must be sent to the Board in each such inquest for invoicing purposes.

44. An amended certificate shall be required before engaging a translation company to translate documents in a particular inquest. Where an amended certificate is provided for this purpose only the translation company with which the Board has a contract may be engaged for this purpose.

45. A solicitor may not incur costs or expenses save as authorised on foot of a certificate or an amending certificate. The Board shall be responsible only for costs or expenses incurred where these have been approved in writing in advance.

46. Decisions by the Board to refuse applications for services in addition to those authorised by the Legal Aid Certificate shall be subject to the relevant review and appeal procedures contained in the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2013 (Regulation 12 Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996).

47. The Claim Form shall be the document whereby the solicitor shall be entitled to claim the appropriate fee and any authorised outlay. The appropriate fee is inclusive of any fee that might be paid to a barrister and no additional fee shall be paid for any barrister retained unless same has been authorised by way of an amended Legal Aid Certificate. Barristers whose services have been authorised under an amended Legal Aid Certificate should submit a separate Claim Form in the form approved by the Board counsel. The form is required to be certified by the instructing solicitor. Care should be taken in completing forms, as incomplete or improperly completed claim forms will be returned without payment.

48. The completed Claim Form, together with a copy of the signed Certificate, should be returned to the Coroners Service Implementation Team, IDA Business Park, Athlumney, Navan, Co. Meath, C15 ND62 (Fax: 046 905 0560) for processing when the coroner’s inquest has been concluded.

49. A legally aided person must not be charged any fees and must not be asked to discharge any fees, expenses, costs or outlay, except in accordance with such specific instructions as may be issued in writing from time to time by the Board. 

50. If a legally aided person offers to pay additional money to a solicitor for additional services in respect of the inquest the solicitor must refuse to accept any such additional money.

51. A legally aided person must not be asked to sign any undertaking to pay for additional services and the charging or accepting of additional fees, expenses, costs or outlay or the seeking of undertakings to pay for additional services shall be grounds for immediately removing a solicitor from the Panel.

52. There shall be a standard scale fees payable to solicitors on the Panel for the provision of services.

                                                   Fees Payable

A rate of €736 per day for solicitor exclusive of VAT shall be paid for attendance before a coroner's inquest. This rate is effective for cases from the 18th August 2016. Prior to the 18th August 2016, a rate of €770 per day for solicitor exclusive of VAT shall be paid for attendance before a coroner's inquest.

The solicitor's fee is inclusive of all preparatory work, other than mention hearings certified under paragraph 28 above, and is inclusive of any payments made directly by a solicitor including to counsel, where same was no authorised by the Board.

A substantive mention hearing shall be treated as half a hearing day unless a coroner certifies it as a full day.

No travel or subsistence allowance is payable to a solicitor/barrister or member of their staff for attending an inquest.

Fees payable to counsel where counsel has been authorised by the Board will be at a daily rate of €1,027 for Senior Counsel and €685 per day for Junior Counsel exclusive of VAT effective from 18th August 2016.

53. If a client makes a complaint to a solicitor on the panel about his or her performance and it is not possible for the solicitor to address the complaint to the client’s satisfaction, the client should be requested to put the complaint in writing and the complaint should be forwarded to the Board’s offices in Cahirciveen Co. Kerry.

54. If the Board receives a complaint from a client about a panel solicitor or if the Board identifies a performance issue, a copy of the complaint or a note of the performance issue shall be forwarded by the Board to the solicitor for his/her observations.

55. The Board shall consider the complaint / performance issue in accordance with its Information Leaflet entitled “Customer Care and Complaints Procedure”, and also in accordance with the terms and conditions contained herein.

56. Nothing in these Terms and Conditions shall give rise to, or be construed as giving rise to, a relationship of employer and employee between the Board and any solicitor on the Panel.