Saturday 3 December 2016

Lawyer with 62 findings of misconduct is struck off

Tim Healy

Published 23/11/2016 | 02:30

Damien Cassidy: ‘No history of my having ever defaulted’
Damien Cassidy: ‘No history of my having ever defaulted’

The High Court has struck off a solicitor for misconduct over failures to deal quickly with undertakings given in relation to two conveyancing matters.

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Damien Cassidy, the now retired principal of Walker and Co Solicitors, Sandymount Road, Dublin, was found guilty by a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) of eight counts of misconduct.

These included failing to reply to correspondence from the Law Society or to attend meetings of its complaints and client relations committee.

The SDT recommended he be struck off, particularly having regard to the fact that he had 62 previous findings of professional misconduct against him, including failures over undertakings and failing to reply to Law Society inquiries.

Solicitors' undertakings are a staple of conveyancing and ensure there is good marketable title to properties in the event the buyers want to sell later.

Mr Cassidy, who opposed the strike-off application and represented himself in court, complained matters which he had not been notified of had been presented to the court.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said he was only taking into account those matters which were relevant to the SDT's recommendation.

The judge approved the recommendation that he be struck off. He said the SDT made its findings after a three-day hearing at which Mr Cassidy was represented.

In an affidavit, Mr Cassidy, who was in practice from 1970 to 2015, said all the undertakings which the SDT had found him guilty of had been completed with title deeds furnished to the bank involved and security completed. He accepted there had been delay in some cases - but as soon as he became aware of outstanding matters, he and his wife Anne attended meetings of the Law Society.

Matters were dealt with as quickly as events allowed and, he said, attending to them involved him and his wife "travelling all over the city and sometimes outside" in order to have them completed.

Throughout his career, he said, there was "no history of my ever having defaulted" in dealing with a bank or building society security.

David Irwin, a solicitor in the Law Society's regulation department, said in an affidavit that in one of the cases the discharge from the undertaking was because of the redemption of the account by the borrower himself. In the second case, it was through the furnishing of outstanding documentation by the borrowers themselves directly to the bank.

Mr Cassidy appeared to show a "complete lack of insight" in relation to his failure to comply with his obligations and deal expeditiously with his solicitor undertakings, Mr Irwin said.

Irish Independent

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