Friday 19 July 2019

Suspended solicitor faces inquiry over allegations of negligence

Facing tribunal: Solicitor Declan O’Callaghan. Picture: Collins
Facing tribunal: Solicitor Declan O’Callaghan. Picture: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Suspended solicitor Declan O'Callaghan is facing a lawsuit and a separate disciplinary tribunal over alleged professional negligence.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had been due to hear complaints by businessman Tom Fleming and his son Sean against the Co Roscommon solicitor next week.

However, the tribunal yesterday agreed to an application from Mr O'Callaghan's barrister Michael Mullooly to defer its hearing of the matter until after a High Court civil action, dealing with similar issues, is heard in May. The tribunal is set to investigate allegations Mr O'Callaghan purported to act for both the vendor and purchaser in a transaction where there was a clear conflict of interest and provided inadequate professional services.

The case is one of a number against Mr O'Callaghan likely to come before the tribunal.

Last month, the suspended solicitor consented to High Court orders freezing his accounts below €1.062m.

Yesterday, Mr Mullooly sought an adjournment until after civil proceedings brought by the Flemings and a company called Nirvanna Property Holdings Limited have been heard.

He argued his client would be prejudiced if the tribunal took place first. He also said he wanted to avoid a situation where the tribunal would be "a dry run" for the civil action.

Tribunal chairman Philip Joyce agreed to an adjournment, saying it would ensure there was "no prejudice against any party".

The application was opposed by Tom Fleming, who said his complaints had been before the tribunal for eight years.

Mr O'Callaghan was suspended last year arising from concerns raised in an independent solicitor's report, including that he had withdrawn substantial fees from the estate of a bereaved child.

Mr O'Callaghan reimbursed some €344,000 in fees to the child's estate, after accepting they were excessive. He has consistently denied any dishonesty.

Last month, the High Court heard the Law Society was concerned the deficit in the client account of his former practice may be almost €1m.

Irish Independent

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