Wednesday 18 July 2018

Solicitor given time to explain €101,000 fees

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

Tim Healy

A solicitor is being given time by the High Court to provide a full explanation for his deduction of €101,000 in fees from a €396,000 estate held for a widowed client and her three children.

After a meeting last week, solicitor Declan O'Callaghan and the widow had agreed on fees of some €28,000 - less than a third of the original charges - the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, was told.

The €101,000 was withdrawn from the estate in 39 separate withdrawals on dates from August to November 2017, he said.

Mr O'Callaghan's lawyer, Gabriel Gavigan, said his client had sworn evidence that he had authorisation concerning the fees.

However, he added that time was needed to properly address the concerns raised by the Law Society.

Earlier, the court was told the widow had contacted the society expressing concerns after reading media reports last month about Mr O'Callaghan's reimbursement of some €344,000 fees, including VAT, which he had taken from a sum of €454,000 gathered into the estate of a bereaved child.

Arising from the issues raised by the widow's case, Mr Justice Kelly agreed at a hearing yesterday to further adjourn the Law Society's application concerning whether the solicitor should be suspended, pending an inquiry into his conduct.

Nessa Bird, acting for the society, said it had been directed by its Regulation of Practice Committee (RPC) to continue its application to suspend the solicitor, pending inquiry. But she added the society wanted the matter adjourned for further reports concerning the widow's estate and more generally.

The adjournment was granted on terms including Mr O'Callaghan undertaking in the witness box not to transfer files.

Mr Justice Kelly described the issues concerning the widow's estate as "disquieting" but said he was satisfied the public would be protected by measures, including that another solicitor, approved by the society, would supervise Mr O'Callaghan's practice and be the sole signatory on accounts.

Irish Independent

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