Sunday 26 January 2020

Lawyer who served prison term for forging health insurance claim forms is struck off

Patrick Enright
Patrick Enright

Tim Healy

A LAWYER who served a prison term for forging health insurance claim forms has been struck off the roll of solicitors by the High Court.

Patrick Enright (54), of Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, was being struck off, not as a punitive measure, but for the purpose of maitaining the reputation of the solicitors' profession, High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly said.

Mr Enright, who is married with a family, had committed the offences between 1988 and 1994 when he worked as an assistant manager for US-based health insurance Nylerin. 

He had qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and in 1994 left the insurance firm to set up his own legal practice. 

He believed he was entitled to a redundancy payment from Nylerin but when it did not materialise, he then forged insurance claims on ten occasions which were paid to a post office box.  

The company became suspicious and gardai intercepted Mr Enright's brother, Denis, collecting the payout cheques involving around €12,000 which was eventually paid back.

Criminal proceedings against Mr Enright and Denis began in 1996 but he brought a number of legal challenges to the High and Supreme Court which all failed by 2008.  Mr Enright then also brought a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, including on grounds related to a fair trial, which resulted in a friendly settlement between him and the State.

As a result, it was not until June 2013, that his trial at Tralee Circuit Court went ahead.   He initially pleaded not guilty but later changed it to guilty on all ten offences.

He was jailed for 12 months and served his sentence.

The Law Society then sought his strike off.

Mr Enright asked that he not be struck off because he had been working as a solicitor for 21 years (until he was jailed) representing hundreds of clients for whom there had never been a problem.

Mr Justice Kelly said he had regard to the fact that he practised as a solicitor to the complete satisfaction of the Law Society for some 20 years after the commission of the offences.

It had been argued that in striking him off, it would "consign Mr Enright to unemployability in his chosen profession in perpetuity".

This was not necessarily so and it was possible for a struck-off solicitor to apply for restoration to the roll of solicitors, he said.

It would be unwise to indicate the circumstances in which such an order might be made, but "normally a passage of time would occur subsequent to the strike-off order and other conditions would have to be met", he said.

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