NI: Madden & Finucane tops legal aid payments table
Madden & Finucane Solicitors has overtaken KRW Law to top the table of legal aid payments to solicitor firms in Northern Ireland in 2014-15.
They were the only two solicitor practices to receive more than £2 million in total from the legal aid fund.
Meanwhile, Belfast barrister Patrick Lyttle QC was paid more than £1 million from the legal aid fund for the third year in a row.
Details of legal aid payments made to 100 solicitor practices and 100 barristers between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015 have been published by the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI).
The figures show a total of £70.5 million was paid to solicitors over the year, as well as £34.8 million to barristers.
A detailed breakdown on the Department of Justice website lists the firms and barristers that received the largest payments, accounting for £49.3 million and £21.4 million of the total spend respectively.
The total payments to the top ten firms were as follows:
The total payments to the top ten barristers were:
John Guerin, president of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, said: “We welcome the publication by the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland of the payments to solicitor firms for publicly funded legal services in 2014/15. What is clearly evident is the demand for access to justice supported by legal aid in Northern Ireland.
“The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) has today published the list of payments to 100 firms. It is important to recognise that there are almost 500 solicitor firms committed to providing legal aid services to those most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the public at a time when their lives require support, advice and representation. They include the victims of domestic violence, children who may be taken into care, those facing criminal charges and those with mental health issues.
“Delivering access to justice for all is a fundamental obligation for government in a civilised and democratic society.”
Gerry McAlinden QC, chairman of the Bar Council, added: “Our aim has been to ensure that we are able to demonstrate value for money for the public purse. Legal aid continues to be a demand led and vital service relied upon by many throughout Northern Ireland who require expert representation and advice during difficult times in their lives.
“These published payments represent the most serious of legal cases within our system in civil, family and criminal law, often reflecting many years of work due to the delay in processing payments in long running and complex cases.
“The Bar Council has been working proactively with the Department of Justice and the Legal Services Agency for the last three years to improve the system of recording and reporting on legal aid spending.”