Thursday 22 March 2018

Solicitor who failed to comply with undertakings to banks for clients is struck off

Four Courts
Four Courts

A WEXFORD solicitor who failed to comply with undertakings to banks in relation to property transactions for clients has been struck off by the High Court.

J. Finbar O'Gorman, who last practised in 2009 in Gorey, admitted six counts of misconduct over failure to comply in good time or at all with five undertakings he gave to Bank of Ireland and a sixth to Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

Refusing his counsel's plea not to strike him off the roll of solicitors, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said this was a "crystal clear case" in which such a sanction must be imposed.

What was "particularly reprehensible" was his failure to engage with a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal which recommended his strike off.  "Essentially, he went to ground and did not participate", the judge said.

His counsel said he was ashamed of what he had done but had suffered from depression and as a result "stopped opening letters from anyone, not just the Law Society".   

He had ceased practising but was asking that he not be struck off so it might be possible for him to "perform some role" in the future and because of the effect it would have on his self esteem, counsel said.

Mary Fenelon, solicitor in the Law Society's regulation department, said there had been a previous finding against him in relation to client funds and limits had been imposed on his practising certificate.

Undertakings to financial institutions were not just the currency of the legal profession but failure to comply has implications for clients who must incur more expense as a result of a solicitor's misconduct, she said.

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