Thanks to the economic turbulence that has plagued the Irish nation since 2008, Dublin’s largest firms continue to collect hefty recession related work post financial crisis, including most recently an appointment to advise the government’s asset and liabilities manager, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
The NTMA, which is responsible for borrowing on behalf of the Irish government and managing the national debt, has appointed Dublin-based Big Five firms A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, William Fry, McCann FitzGerald and Matheson to its general legal services panel alongside Mason Hayes & Curran and offshore funds giant Maples and Calder.
In recent years advising on Ireland’s debt has been particularly lucrative. Traditionally, Arthur Cox has been recognised as the state’s go-to firm, having led on many of Ireland’s headline bank restructuring deals, including the NTMA’s transfer of €15.8bn of deposits and assets from Irish Nationwide Building Society to Irish Life & Permanent, and from the now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank to Allied Irish Banks (€12.2bn).
However, this latest panel announcement comes as the government is under serious public scrutiny over legal fees, particularly in relation to its controversial bank guarantee scheme, which has landed the Irish tax-payer with over €64bn of debt.
Following a parliamentary question published in mid-July, finance minister Michael Noonan revealed that since 2011 the government has paid Arthur Cox around €5m for advice on the scheme including fees this year so far of €981,012.
Noonan also revealed that the state has paid out more than €960,000 to Matheson since last year – a sum it says was for ‘advice on transactions undertaken by the Minister in relation to Irish Life.’
See the September issue of Legal Business for an extensive insight into Ireland’s legal market