Saturday 21 September 2019

Lawyer who overcharged client faces €94,000 legal costs bill

Joe Buckley: Overcharged former client by €650,000. Photo: Courtpix
Joe Buckley: Overcharged former client by €650,000. Photo: Courtpix
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A solicitor who overcharged a former client by €650,000 is now facing a €94,000 legal costs bill.

Costs were awarded against Wicklow-based solicitor Joe Buckley after his failed challenge to a decision by the Taxing Master to cut several bills charged to publican Denis Doyle.

The awarding of costs against the solicitor is the latest development is a long- running dispute between Mr Doyle and Mr Buckley, which is expected to continue in separate High Court proceedings next year.

Mr Buckley represented Mr Doyle and members of his family in a number of matters, including the sale of property, over a period of 10 years from 1998. But the publican became concerned about overcharging and the alleged use of money in a client account to discharge fees.

The matter came before Taxing Master Declan O'Neill, who decides on disputes over legal costs arising from litigation. In a decision issued in January last year, Mr O'Neill found Mr Doyle had been overcharged and cut several bills issued by the solicitor.

Mr Buckley subsequently applied to the High Court for a review of the Taxing Master's findings, but the application for a review was refused by Mr Justice Donald Binchy in a ruling delivered last month.

The judge yesterday awarded the costs of the application against Mr Buckley.

The court was told Mr Doyle's legal team estimated the cost of the three-day hearing to be €94,000.

Mr Justice Binchy ordered Mr Buckley to pay an initial sum of €25,000 on account, pending a determination by the Taxing Master of the final amount owed. The judge said he would give Mr Buckley five months to pay the €25,000, having received a submission about "potential hardship" this might impose on the solicitor.

Separate proceedings by Mr Doyle against Mr Buckley seeking a sum of €565,000 in a client account are now expected to proceed. Mr Buckley has said some €45,000 remains in that account.

The solicitor has made a counter-claim for €720,000 against his former client.

Irish Independent

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