Friday 15 December 2017

Schoolteacher claims solicitor misappropriated final mortgage draw-down

Ray Managh and Aodhan O’Faolain

A CAVAN schoolteacher claimed in the High Court today she had to abandon building work on her new home because a Limerick-based solicitor misappropriated a final draw-down on her mortgage.

Sara Sheridan, of Deerpark, Virginia, told Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan her house was now unfinished, uninhabitable and suffering damage from the elements.

Conor Dignam, SC, who appeared with Ferga McGloughlin for Ms Sheridan, was granted leave to apply for a judicial review of a Law Society decision that she had not sustained loss in consequence of dishonesty.

Ms Sheridan said that in October 2008 she engaged solicitor Michael Small, of Carrick House, Newman Street, Limerick, to draw down a €256,000 mortgage with Springboard Mortgages Limited and periodically release payments for the builders.

She alleged that a final draw down of  just under €50,000 had been misappropriated by Small and complained to the Law Society which had held a disciplinary inquiry which found Small guilty of professional misconduct in his dealings with her.

She had made a claim against the Solicitors Compensation Fund but the Law Society ruled it was not satisfied she had sustained a loss in consequence of dishonesty on the part of Small.  It was also not satisfied she had not taken the benefit of the €50,000 balance of the mortgage.

Ms Sheridan said Small in correspondence had admitted he had failed to account for the total proceeds of the mortgage and she believed the Society’s Compensation Fund decision was totally contradictory with its finding at the disciplinary inquiry.

Mr Dignam told the court Ms Sheridan believed that an independent adjudicator had failed to fully review the Law Society’s decision or hear her views on the matter.

She claimed she had not received the final €50,000 draw down, had been unable to finish building her home and was now facing legal  proceedings.  She was behind in her mortgage because she could not afford to make repayments and pay rent for where she was living.

Ms Sheridan  is seeking to quash the decisions of the Law Society and the independent adjudicator and is looking for a declaration that they had both acted beyond their powers in failing to consider all relevant matters and failing to hear her side of affairs.

The proceedings were adjourned until April 30th.

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