The Irish Independent reports that a new report says the legal profession still restricts competition and that its prices are "extremely sticky" relative to other professions, and not reflective of the current economy.
Forfas, the Department of Enterprise policy body, says that while the cost of most business and professional services has fallen since 2006, legal costs have not dropped.
It says the Legal Services Bill currently making its way through the Dail needs a number of amendments.
The report recommends removing the two-tier system that divides barristers into junior and senior counsel.
About 12pc of Irish barristers are senior counsel according to the Bar Council, a position awarded by the Government to barristers who usually have over 10 to 15 years of experience.
The report says this distinction allows for higher fees to be charged by senior counsel, but does not offer a definitive guide as to the quality of the barrister in question.
The new report says that, to enhance competition, solicitors should be able to act as lead counsel when working with a barrister on a court case.
It criticises the high cost of transferring property – conveyancing – in Ireland and calls for a new of conveyancing professionals to do the work instead of solicitors. That happened in the UK in 1987.
While noting a significant reduction in business costs in recent years, the report also found that Ireland's rate of income tax for high earners, at 52pc for employees and 55pc for the self-employed, is higher than most of its competitors.
Enterprise and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said this "damages inward investment and entrepreneurship, and makes too many people question whether they would be better off not working at all".
The Irish Independent also reports that more than 550 jobs are at stake in a bitter legal dispute over alleged trespass at the Cork offices from which the 'Irish Examiner' and 'Evening Echo' newspapers are now operating following restructuring of the Thomas Crosbie media group.
Kilquane Ltd, the landlord of the City Quarter Building at Lapps Quay, Cork, will next month apply to the Commercial Court for injunctions restraining Irish Examiner Ltd (IEL) occupying offices governed by leases between Kilquane and Examiner Publications Cork Ltd (in receivership).
Kilquane has "absolutely no interest" in dealing with IEL given its behaviour to date and "cynical" attitude concerning contractual and leasehold obligations, a solicitor for Kilquane said. The property at issue is valued at some €7.32m with an estimated rental value of €650,000 a year.
Kilquane claims Examiner Publications Cork Ltd (EPC) entered in 2008 into 20-year leases, dating from 2006, with Kilquane to occupy parts of the building over three floors and was not entitled to assign leases to IEL as part of the Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) restructuring. That restructuring included EPC and various TCH companies being placed in receivership last month.
Kilquane also claims default for more than two years on rent payments with some €900,000 in outstanding arrears. Separate proceedings have been taken over the rent issues.
Michael Howard, for Kilquane, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday that his client was not interested in mediation as IEL was trespassing on the premises and rent payments had been "unilaterally halved" for some two years. The lease was between Kilquane and TCH and could not and should not have been assigned without Kilquane's consent, he said.
Any risk to jobs was created entirely as a result of the restructuring and the ignoring of obligations to Kilquane, counsel said.
The court heard IEL's solicitors wrote to Kilquane last month stating it wished to agree a new tenancy and was willing to pay, as an interim measure, some 50pc of rent due under the leases.
Kilquane refused to meet and said it would not accept a cheque from IEL for some €100,000 to cover rent from March to May 2013.
Una Tighe, for IEL, urged mediation of the dispute, stressing that 550 jobs were involved and a business continued to operate from the premises. The new company operating the 'Irish Examiner' is a highly regarded business achieving significant cost savings and it expects to be profitable by the end of this year, she said.
Mr Justice Kelly remarked what has happened to date had been "anything but an orderly transfer of property" and asked what entitlement had the occupier of the premises to be there.
Ms Tighe said her client was in possession with the agreement of the tenant although there was an issue with the landlord. There should be mediation, the dispute should be resolved and no indication had been given that any other tenant was lined up, she added.
Mr Justice Kelly made orders for the fast-tracking of the proceedings in the Commercial Court and listed the injunction application for hearing on May 8. Rent arrears issues were also adjourned to that date.
The Irish Times reports that
a final decision on the adjustment of Ireland and Portugal’s bailout loans will
not be reached until the May meeting of European finance ministers, Minister for
Finance Michael Noonan has confirmed.
But the European Commission said that “continued and determined implementation”
of the bailout programme was a “precondition” for a decision on the lengthening
of the loans.
Its economy is struggling under the weight of unemployment, with the
unemployment rate expected to peak at almost 19 per cent by the end of this
year. Mr Coelho ruled out any further tax rises, indicating that the savings are
likely to come from the areas of health and education.
“We developed the Blue Haven Food Company a number of years ago, which is the food manufacturing part of our business, and we feel that this will be probably our biggest growth area for the next few years as agri-food, seafood and food exports are a massive growth sector.”
The firm will launch in Boston in the next three months after receiving intensive mentoring from the IEA and Smurfit School of Business.
Mr Fitzgerald said they could not have gone to the US without the support of the likes of Musgrave, who helped the brand gain traction.
The inclusion of Blue Haven Food Company in the selection caps off a remarkable turnaround for the company which is part of the Blue Haven Collection.
The Blue Haven Collection was served with a winding-up petition by Revenue following a tax issue. The was resolved by an agreement between both parties which resulted in 110 jobs being saved.
The company is now focused on becoming the leading supplier of quality seafood, according to chief executive Tommy Doyle.
“Our vision is to become an international food brand, producing top-quality niche seafood products for both the domestic and international market underpinned by the world renowned Gourmet Capital of Ireland, Kinsale.”
The Blue Haven Food Company represents the pinnacle of the industry, having won innovation awards in the food and beverage sector, Blás na hÉireann food awards, and the UK Great Taste Award.
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