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25/09/2021

Council spent almost €1m on legal fees last year - a 55% increase on previous twelve months

No tender process was undertaken for legal services, report states

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Legal fees expenditure up 55% on 2016

Carlow County Council spent almost €1m on legal fees last year, according to the Audit Committee Report to Council on the 2017 Annual Financial Statement and Local Government Auditors Report.

Instances of non-compliance with procurement regulations and weaknesses in procurement procedures were referenced in relation to legal services. 

The Council's legal Fees for 2017 came to €938,000 - compared to 2016's expenditure of €418,000.

The local authority's Corporate Procurement Plan states that there is a clear requirement for a dedicated procurement resource responsible for the development of the function within the Council, the report states. 

However, the Council's procurement officer "was allocated other duties during 2017 and currently spends only 20% of their time on procurement duties".

Considering the strategic importance of the procurement function, this does "not represent best practice".

The procurement function should be adequately resourced and staffed on a full-time basis. In addition, the procurement officer should provide regular procurement updates to the senior management team, the report found. 

Peter Scully, Audit Committee Chairperson, said "instances of non-compliance with procurement regulations and weaknesses in procurement procedures were noted".

Mr Scully, referencing the Council's legal fees, said: "There was no tender process undertaken. There is an Office of Government Procurement framework agreement in place for legal services which the Council is not currently using."

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