Orla Ellis barred and her practice closed down after ‘six-figure deficit in client account’
A solicitor who is the daughter of a former Fianna Fáil TD has been suspended by order of the High Court and had her practice closed.
Orla Ellis, who was defending clients in the District Court as recently as last July, was the subject of a vacation motion of the Law Society last August that has not been reported until now.
On August 18, Mr Justice Garrett Simons ordered she be suspended and be prohibited from holding herself out as a solicitor entitled to practice.
Legal sources say the order came after the Law Society discovered a six-figure deficit in the client account of her firm, Ellis & Co in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.
The order said no bank should make any payment out of Orla Ellis’ client account or any of her firm’s other accounts.
Ms Ellis (42) qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and received her parchment in a ceremony involving then justice minister Brian Lenihan Jnr.
An automatic reply was received from her firm’s practice email last week. It said: “Please note that Ellis & Co are now closed. All files are with the Law Society. You should contact the practice closure division [of the Law Society]. We would like to thank everyone for their understanding at this time. Sorry for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your loyal instructions over the years.”
At least one complaint about the firm has been made to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA).
Court records show Joseph Howley, the Revenue’s Collector General, initiated two High Court actions against Ms Ellis last September.
Ms Ellis’s father was a TD up to 2007 when he was appointed by Bertie Ahern to the Seanad where he served until 2011.
John Ellis was a controversial figure in the north-west due the collapse of a cattle firm he owned with his brothers. Stanlow Trading ceased operations in the late 1980s leaving more than 80 farmers out of pocket for hundreds of thousands of pounds in payments.
The Sunday Business Post reported how in 1986, when Charlie Haughey was visiting Sligo, he was confronted by a farmer handing out photocopies of a bounced cheques from Stanlow Trading. John Ellis’s response was to have his solicitor write a legal letter threatening action over the “scurrilous campaign”.
The Moriarty tribunal revealed Mr Ellis received payments of £26,000 from Haughey’s Fianna Fáil leader’s account in 1989 and 1990 to pay off two marts that threatened to make Mr Ellis bankrupt. At the time bankrupt TDs had to resign their seats.
It later emerged Mr Ellis received a £240,000 write down on his debts from National Irish Bank, which he claimed was due to lobbying from Albert Reynolds.
Mr Ellis had to resign as chairman of the Oireachtas agriculture committee in 1999 after news of his write-off emerged.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) later successfully campaigned to have the Ellis brothers pay some of debts left by their company. Tom Parlon, then IFA president, led a group to the Isle of Man to confront Richard Ellis, one of the brothers.
In 2000 John Ellis apologised to farmers “for the difficulties created by this business collapse” but accepted he had a “moral responsibility” to them.
Shane Ellis, the brother of solicitor Orla, is a co-director with their father in a firm. Shane stood for Fianna Fáil in the 2020 general election.