271. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason fees charged for a ward of court in circumstances in which the General Solicitor is committee for the person and estate and the family or persons other than the General Solicitor is committee for the person and estate, with particular reference to the income included in calculating the amount and the rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25497/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in Wards of Court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. Furthermore, the Office of the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court is an Office of the High Court.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that the General Solicitor is appointed by the President of the High Court as Committee for Wards of Court where the Court determines that there is no suitable family member to act or where there is a dispute between family members.
The Courts Service has informed me that Committee fees are provided for under Section 115 of the Lunacy Regulation Ireland Act, 1871 and Rule 67 Order 65 of the Rules of Superior Courts.
The Courts Service has also informed me that the General Solicitor charges fees where she has been so appointed for providing independent and professional service to the Ward and the Court. As the Deputy will be aware, the General Solicitor acts under the direction of the President of the High Court.
The Courts Service has further advised that Committee fees are paid from Ward's funds for the collection and processing of that Ward’s funds and income by the General Solicitor in her capacity as the Committee for the Ward. Income includes pensions, annuities and rental income. Fees on income are calculated at 5% of the amount received. Fees on funds other than income are calculated at 4% of the amount received. The General Solicitor is required to file accounts on a periodic basis with the Office of Wards of Court for vouching and examination of the Ward’s funds received and paid out.
The Courts Service has indicated that in common with any solicitor who acts in a wardship matter, the General Solicitor is paid legal costs in respect of the work carried out as solicitor for the Ward. These costs are generally paid from the Ward’s funds. These Bills are either measured by the Registrar for Wards of Court or are taxed by the Taxing Master. Payment of legal costs arise whether the Committee is the General Solicitor or a family member.
In addition to the above, it is open to any Committee to seek remuneration in relation to their role as Committee. However it is not the practice to pay remuneration by way of Committee fees.