Student falsely accused of fare evasion faces €1.9m legal bill
A student falsely identified in a YouTube clip as a taxi fare evader, and his parents, are facing a demand for €1.9m in legal costs from a solicitor.
Eoin McKeogh (23) was falsely identified in the clip as a taxi fare evader in Dublin, when he was in Japan at the time.
Paul Lambert, a solicitor in Merrion Legal Solicitors, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin, is seeking the €1.9m in legal costs from him and his parents.
His parents, Eamon and Fidelma McKeogh, of Donadea, Co Kildare, say they were never clients of Mr Lambert.
They say they would never, have agreed to any arrangement which could result in being liable for costs of €1.9m when their only asset is their family home, worth about €250,000.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan noted the bill served by Mr Lambert included €1.4m for a solicitor's professional fee, while the rest was for outlay and other expenses.
Senior and junior counsel who acted for the student during a 16-day High Court injunction application appeared to have waived their fees in the matter, the judge observed.
Ronan Lupton BL, for Mr Lambert, said it was made clear in letters to Mr McKeogh and his parents, when Mr Lambert was instructed in January 2012, an hourly rate would be charged by the solicitor.
Asked by the judge were the parents put on notice of a potential costs liability of €1.9m, counsel said the letters indicated the potential complexity of the case.
Part of the problem was Mr McKeogh and his parents had refused to engage with Mr Lambert on the costs issue, he said.
Mr McKeogh yesterday agreed to sign a form allowing the costs matter to go to the Taxing Master, who decides on final legal bills to be paid, he said.
In court documents, Mr Lambert said the parents could not have thought he was taking a very complex case involving battling with international companies like Facebook, Youtube and Google, on a no-win, no-fee basis, as they were now alleging.
Maura King BL, for Mr McKeogh's parents, argued the letters did not amount to a contract. The letters from Mr Lambert also referred to different hourly rates between €270 and €375 an hour, she said.
Mr Justice Gilligan has reserved judgment on Mr Lambert's application for an order the accrued costs be taxed by a High Court Taxing Master.
The court also heard, arising from the litigation, complaints have been made by Mr Lambert and the McKeoghs to the Law Society.
The High Court previously ruled Mr McKeogh was grossly defamed in the internet video because he was incontrovertibly not the person in it.
After the taxi driver posted the video asking if anyone could identify the person in his cab in Monkstown, Dublin, one person wrongly named the person as Mr McKeogh.