Thursday 21 November 2019

€500,000 legal bill pensioner sues again

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

A PENSIONER who was left with a €500,000 legal bill after he accused his former golf club of effectively branding him a cheat, is back before the High Court in an action against his former employer.

Retired insurance official Thomas Talbot (75) has brought a claim against Aviva Insurance.

The matter has been adjourned to October.

Mr Talbot worked for 44 years for Hibernian Insurance, which was subsequently taken over by Aviva.

His claim arises out of complaints about the way his employer allegedly treated him.

However, Aviva has brought a motion seeking to have his action struck out on the grounds that it discloses no reasonable cause of action and is frivolous and vexatious.

Last month, Mr Talbot, of Burnell Court, Malahide Road, Dublin, lost a High Court action alleging he was libelled by his golf club in a notice which, he claimed, meant he had cheated about his playing ability.

He claimed he was defamed in a certificate sent to him by the handicap sub-committee of Hermitage Golf Club, Lucan, in July 2003 which said his handicap was 13. The certificate had the words "General Play (Handicap Building)" at the bottom.

A golfer's handicap is the number of strokes allocated to him based on ability. Handicap building is deliberately playing below one's ability to get a more generous stroke allowance.

Mr Talbot claimed the use of those words meant he was cheating at golf. He sued the club, its handicap sub-committee chairman at the time, Mr Eddie Murphy, and the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI).

However, last month Mr Justice Daniel Herbert rejected the claim and awarded costs, believed to have reached around €500,000, against Mr Talbot.

He said afterwards he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Paperwork

Yesterday at the High Court, Mr Justice Herbert adjourned the hearing of Aviva's motion to a date in the new legal term in October. He told Mr Talbot -- who is representing himself -- that he will need to have his paperwork ready by then.

The judge also said that he was prepared to recluse himself from the current proceedings.

Mr Talbot and lawyers for Aviva Plc initially said they were content to have him hear the case. However, Mr Talbot changed his mind and asked for another judge.

The matter will now go before the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns in October, who will assign another judge to hear the motion.

Irish Independent

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