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In line with that statement, my predecessor and right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) 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 inquirys 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.
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 right hon. Members and the general public.
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 of 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.
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;
(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 of 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.
(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.