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'That Would Be Against Every Rule Of The Law Society' - Laois Councillor Dismisses Legal Fees Question

A debate around legal fees on land disposals made for an interesting exchange.

A suggestion to have the council waive legal fees for people buying tracts of land was met with disapproval by one county councillor - who is herself a practicing solicitor.

At the recent meeting of Laois County Council, Cllr John King said that, regarding the disposal of land under section 183 of the Local Government Act, he was a little concerned about the legal costs involved.

"It could be a small tract of land, but the fees are quite large. You could pay €2,000 fees to get a small bit of land in your area. Can we not support people as a council?" he said.

Director of services Gerry Murphy said that the council does not set the legal fees, these are set by solicitors.

"The individual is acquiring the land and Laois County Council shouldn't have to bare any of the costs," he said.

"It's a shock that comes later," said Cllr King.

"The council isn't in a position to subsidise legal costs for individuals acquiring land," said Mr Murphy.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said that the council staff are very clear to anyone buying land that their legal costs are their own.

Cllr Willie Aird asked, in cases where there's a small piece of land beside a house and someone wants to take it over, was there no extra fee that a person has to make to Laois County Council after the initial payment.

Mr Murphy said that, in the majority of cases, each side bares their own costs.

Cllr Thomasina Connell, a practicing solicitor, said that the minimum charge the land registry makes on any transfer of land is €400, and then the stamp duty on non-residential is 7.5%. She said it's this that bumps up the costs.

"I do feel that what is charged by the land registry is absolutely crazy," she said.

Cllr Padraig Fleming, supporting Cllr King, said that if someone is buying a small plot of land beside them, was there any way for them to forgo having to pay extra legal costs.

"Could the council waive that fee and tell them not to get a solicitor and they can double-check it themselves. Do they really need a legal person?" he said.

To this, Cllr Connell said: "That would be against every rule of the law society so I couldn't stand over that."

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