Notice of Determination

Notice of Determination under section 40(4)

On 19 November 2007 the Secretary of State served the following notice on the Chairman of the Inquiry setting qualifications and conditions on the sums payable out of public funds to legal representatives of witnesses and interested parties. The Inquiry has accordingly revised its Costs Protocol to reflect those qualifications and conditions


WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

ROBERT HAMILL INQUIRY: LEGAL COSTS

On 1 April 2004 my rt hon Friend the Member for Torfaen announced the Government's intention to establish public inquiries into the deaths of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright, following reports by Mr Justice Cory.

In his statement to the House that day my rt hon Friend said:

"We will, of course, take allreasonable steps to control costs in the inquiries that I have announced today, including capping legal costs where appropriate." [Hansard Col 1757]

In line with that statement, my predecessor and rt hon Friend the Member for Neath subsequently agreed a number of measures to ensure that the Inquiries would, while having the resources to establish the full facts in each case, operate in a cost-effective manner. These measures included maximum hourly rates payable for publicly funded legal representation by counsel and solicitors; and a 40 hour cap on hours that might be claimed in any given week. The chairmen of all three Inquiries have taken the need to ensure that the Inquiries operate in a cost-effective manner seriously, and I am grateful to them for that.

The inquiry considering the death of Robert Hamill is now underway under the chairmanship of Sir Edwin Jowitt. Following representations from him my predecessor granted his request to be converted into an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 under section 15 of that Act.

Section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act contains a power for a Secretary of State to place conditions or qualifications on any awards that the chairman of the Inquiry may make under section 40(1) and 40(2) in respect of compensation, expenses or legal representation. After discussions with the Inquiry, I have decided today to issue the following notice of determination under section 40(4) in respect of awards for legal representation. This notice will not alter the substance of those sections of the Inquiry's costs protocol concerned with the award of funding for legal assistance: but it will reinforce the limits on hourly rates that may be claimed by legal representatives.

A similar notice has been issued in relation to the Billy Wright Inquiry following that Inquiry's request to my predecessor to be converted under the Inquiries Act.

These measures which will help ensure continued value for money have been discussed with the chairman of the Inquiry and I know will have the support of hon and rt hon Members and the general public.

NOTICE OF DETERMINATION BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NORTHERN IRELAND TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ROBERT HAMILL INQUIRY UNDER SECTION 40(4) OF THE INQUIRIES ACT 2005

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has determined under section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act 2005 ("the Act") that the power of the Chairman of the Robert Hamill Inquiry to award amounts in respect legal representation under section 40(1) and (2) of the Act to persons eligible for an award under section 40(3) shall be subject to the qualifications and conditions set out below, which supplement and are in addition to the terms and conditions in the costs protocol on the public funding of legal assistance published by the Inquiry on 19 November 2007.

2. The qualifications and conditions are:

(a) The maximum hourly rates for counsel and solicitors shall be:

Leading Counsel (whether a member of the Bar or a solicitor acting in the role of advocate) 200;

Junior Counsel (whether a member of the Bar or a solicitor acting in the role of advocate) 100;

Solicitors 150.

(b) The maximum number of hours that can be charged in respect of each member of a legal team in receipt of an award made by the Chairman under section 40(2) of the Act shall be 40 hours per week, save that, exceptionally, the Chairman the Inquiry may authorise an increase in the weekly cap to 60 hours for counsel or a solicitor during the oral hearings and for a two month period before they commence where he is satisfied that such action is justified, for example, where the work involved in any week clearly needs to exceed 40 hours.

3. In respect of paragraph 2 (b) of this Notice:

(i) no unused hour in any week may be set off against any other week;

(ii) a week should be taken as commencing on Monday and ending on Sunday.

NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE
19 NOVEMBER 2007