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Solicitor struck off after he was found guilty of 30 counts of professional misconduct

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Court rules neighbours responsible for fire in adjoining home

Court rules neighbours responsible for fire in adjoining home

Court rules neighbours responsible for fire in adjoining home

A SOLICITOR found guilty of 30 counts of professional misconduct over undertakings on behalf of clients to financial institutions has been struck off by the president of the High Court.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he had no option but to strike off Oliver Hanrahan, formerly practising in the firm of Hanrahan Rynne Solicitors, Riverside Business Park, Ennis, Co Clare.

The judge said Mr Hanrahan (54) had shown "utter contempt" when he did not attend a solicitors' disciplinary hearing to deal with the matters last June because he "took himself off" for a family holiday in Mexico.

The judge was told he is currently working for a large commercial law firm in London, Fuglers LLP.

His counsel asked the court not to strike him off because he was supporting his wife and three college-going children from his work in London.  The judge refused but agreed to put a 28-day stay on his order to allow him appeal.

The court heard while there is no reciprocal recognition of strike-off orders between the UK and Ireland, his employers in London are likely to be concerned about about any order the Irish High Court would make.

Paul Anthony McDermott BL, for the Law Society, said Mr Hanrahan failed to comply on time or at all with seven undertakings he gave in 2004 and 2007 on property purchase transactions on behalf of clients to three financial institutions, EBS, ACC and Bank of Ireland. 

The other counts he was found guilty of by a disciplinary tribunal related to his failure to respond to correspondence from those institutions and from the Society itself. 

Mr Hanrahan's counsel  told Mr Justice Kearns his client fully accepted the gravity of his behaviour.   He had made energetic efforts to deal with the undertakings to the financial institutions and they had been either been resolved on were on their way to being resolved, counsel said.

Matters got out of control for him when his practice started "drying up" in 2009, counsel said. In an effort to get back on track, he merged with another Clare solicitor, John J.A. Rynne.

Mr Rynne was himself struck off last June for professional misconduct, also over undertakings to financial institutions.

He found however he had to move to work in the UK, where he had originally qualified as a solicitor in 1994, and come back to work here one day a week and at weekends,  counsel said. 

By November 2011, he decided to wind up the practice here but in doing so he found himself facing a "tsunami of paperwork" in dealing with 1,000 of his own files and 500 of Mr Rynne, counsel said.

He failed to give sufficient attention to correspondence over the misconduct allegations. 

He had pre-arranged a family holiday to Mexico last June and as he works in London he does not get a huge amount of time with his family who live here, counsel said.

Mr Justice Kearns said undertakings are "the currency of good faith" in the solicitors' profession and any breach is serious because it affects colleague solicitors and the public at large.

The fact that he was working outside the jurisdiction made it even more important that the court strike him off because not to do so would send out the "worst possible message", he added.

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