Court to rule this month on Seán FitzPatrick's request for Anglo trial legal costs

Thursday 05 June 2014 22.09
Seán FitzPatrick was acquitted of charges of giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in Anglo
Seán FitzPatrick was acquitted of charges of giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in Anglo

The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court will rule later this month on whether the State should pay the legal costs of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick for his trial on charges of giving illegal loans.

Mr FitzPatrick was acquitted in April of giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in the bank after a trial lasting more than ten weeks.

The court was not given any indication of how much the "enormous" bill for costs would be.  

However, Mr FitzPatrick's costs for the lengthy, complex trial, pre-trial hearings and hearings where witness statements were taken orally, could be more than €1million.

His lawyers asked the court to grant him his costs. Mr FitzPatrick’s senior counsel, Michael O'Higgins, said his client had to participate in the trial and had to take legal advice.  

He said he had cooperated with gardaí during interviews and was vindicated by the jury.  

Mr O’Higgins asked if it could seriously be suggested that Mr FitzPatrick should leave the courtroom with his pockets bulging with a huge legal bill.

“Where would the justice be in that,” Mr O'Higgins asked.    

Mr O'Higgins also suggested that the prosecution case against Mr FitzPatrick was "thin" and that Mr Fitzpatrick may have been prosecuted because he was the "public face" of Anglo Irish Bank.

The prosecution opposed Mr FitzPatrick's application for costs.

The court was told the prosecution had written to Mr FitzPatrick's solicitors to ask if Mr FitzPatrick had actually incurred any legal liability for costs.

Prosecuting counsel Paul O’Higgins said this issue would not normally arise. But he said at the time of the trial Mr FitzPatrick was an undischarged bankrupt who did not apply for legal aid. 

He said it was reasonable to expect that his lawyers had not gone unpaid during the trial. 

He said there was a question over the basis on which they had been paid and whether Mr FitzPatrick was open to legal liability for costs.

If he was not, the prosecution said there was a question about whether or not it would be appropriate to make an order granting costs to Mr FitzPatrick.

Mr O'Higgins also said the DPP wanted to reject absolutely a suggestion by Mr FitzPatrick's lawyers that the case against the former chairman was thin and that a prosecution had been taken against him simply because he was the public face of Anglo Irish Bank.  

He said the DPP wanted to reject in the clearest possible terms the suggestion that the charges against Mr FitzPatrick were brought in an improper way.

Judge Martin Nolan said he would give his decision on costs on 23 June. 

The judge said if he found Mr FitzPatrick was entitled to his costs, he would take further submissions on his liability for those costs.

Keywords: anglo