Tuesday 20 March 2018

Martin secures €1.5m judgment against solicitor

Tim Healy

THE Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has secured a €1.5m Commercial Court judgment arising from the misappropriation of funds by a Dublin solicitor.

Ruairi O Ceallaigh misappropriated money which had been bequeathed from the estate of a client to Dr Martin for charitable use.

Granting judgment against Mr O Ceallaigh, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the solicitor had "plundered" money bound for charity and the case involved "unalloyed dishonesty of an unattractive type".

The court heard Dr Martin had received €155,000 from the estate of the late Donal O Suilleabhain from the firm Sean O Ceallaigh & Co Solicitors but only realised a further €1.5m was due to the church after media reports last August of Law Society proceedings against the firm.

The €1.5m, due under the will of Mr O Suilleabhain, Our Lady's Manor, Bulloch Harbour, Dalkey, was misappropriated by Mr O Ceallaigh, a partner in the firm.

Mr O Ceallaigh was said to have a gambling problem, and he used the money to buy and refurbish properties at Grand Canal Street and Cabra Park, Dublin, the court heard.

As various financial institutions have claims over those properties, there is an issue about the ranking of Dr Martin's claim, Declan McGrath for Dr Martin said.

Dr Martin brought proceedings against Cormac O Ceallaigh, of Ballyteige House, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Ruairi O Ceallaigh, of Grand Canal Street, Dublin -- formerly practising as Sean O Ceallaigh & Co Solicitors, Phibsboro, Dublin -- arising from the misappropriation.


Counsel for Dr Martin said there was no allegation Cormac O Ceallaigh was involved in the misappropriation.

Cormac O Ceallaigh was being sued as a partner in the firm and it was contended he had a liability to Dr Martin, as a client, for the wrongful actions of his partner, Mr McGrath said.

It was alleged Cormac O Ceallaigh was negligent in his capacity as executor of Mr O Suilleabhain's estate and owed a duty of care to the beneficiaries of the estate.

The judge transferred the proceedings against both solicitors to the Commercial Court and was told that Ruairi O Ceallaigh was consenting to summary judgment and had also apologised for his actions.

The judge entered summary judgment against Ruairi O Ceallaigh for €1,551,336, plus interest and costs.

Suzanne Boylan, for Cormac O Ceallaigh, said her client was "entirely innocent of any dishonesty" and wanted time to address issues related to securing an indemnity from the Solicitors Mutual Defence Fund.

The judge agreed to adjourn the matter for four weeks.

Irish Independent

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