A recent High Court decision handed down by Justice Iseult O’Malley will prove to have important implications on recovering legal costs in childcare proceedings.

A mother who successfully regained custody of her children from the HSE was awarded the costs of the proceedings despite the fact that she refused to avail of legal aid. Insisting on appointing her own legal team she made a successful application to have her children returned to her custody after they were taken into care by the HSE.

The HSE’s argument that a person is not free to have unlimited choice of representation was rejected by the High Court. O’Malley J ruled that the woman was entitled to choose her own representatives and should not be precluded from an award of costs for exercising this right.

This decision will mean that applicants who are not in a position to discharge their legal fees will no longer be restricted to choosing representation from the Legal Aid Board’s panel of registered practitioners.

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