Psychiatrist withdraws from criminal legal aid work due to ‘derisory’ pay

Psychiatrist withdraws from criminal legal aid work due to 'derisory' pay

Professor Patricia Casey

A leading psychiatrist has withdrawn from criminal legal aid work due to the “derisory remuneration” on offer.

In a letter seen by Irish Legal News, Professor Patricia Casey — a professor emeritus of psychiatry at University College Dublin and a consultant at Blackrock Health — said she will not accept any new referrals dependent on legal aid beginning 1 September 2023.

She explains that criminal law instruction previously formed “about 10 per cent of my medico-legal practice”, but had grown to 40 per cent in the past two years and she is now receiving “six to eight instructions per week”.

Professor Casey continues: “While criminal law is the most interesting of all the medico-legal work I engage in, and I am intellectually stimulated by the complexity of many of the cases, as well as wanting to provide as good a service as I can for those who are in significant financial difficulty, I have made a strategic decision to discontinue criminal legal aid work, due to the derisory remuneration from the State for this valuable and necessary work.

“Unfortunately, the amount of behind the scenes work and the emotional energy that criminal cases require is not matched by the remuneration which the State offers.”

The letter has been welcomed by barristers who plan to mount a courthouse protest around legal aid rates this Friday 14th July.

Justice minister Helen McEntee recently told The Bar of Ireland’s annual chair’s dinner that she did not want barristers to “feel the need to protest on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice”.

However, Darren Lalor BL, who helped to organise previous protests in March and April last year, has called for a “complete withdrawal” of services along the lines of the English barristers’ strike last year.

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