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Celebrity lawyer Kean wins fight against €1m suit

CELEBRITY solicitor Gerald Kean has won a battle to stop a former client suing him for alleged losses of €1m.

The high-profile lawyer had represented the owners of a restaurant in 2004 in their dispute with their Athlone landlord over rent arrears.

After the circuit court case went in favour of the landlord, Mr Kean's clients launched a claim against him and the barrister that he used in the case, saying they failed to advise them properly and had engaged in a breach of duty.

The now-insolvent Rayan Restaurant, whose directors are Djamel Mennad and Fatima Zohra Azizi, also sought damages from Mr Kean and barrister Francis McGagh of more than €1m for alleged loss of potential business.

But in the High Court yesterday Mr Kean successfully had the claim struck out.

Mr Justice Michael White ruled the case by Rayan had "all the hallmarks of a collateral attack" on the previous court decision, which was not permissible.

The judge said he was satisfied the restaurant business was in a perilous financial position as far back as 2003, and that the action was vexatious in that it had no reasonable chance of succeeding.


Speaking after the case was struck out, Mr Kean said he was delighted with the outcome.

He said he wanted to particularly thank junior counsel Gareth Robinson "who fought the case not only against one but two former attorney generals and barristers, Michael McDowell and John Rogers.

"If I am successful in recouping any costs, I will give it away to charity," Mr Kean said.

The background of the case goes back to 2004, when Djamel Mennad and Fatima Zohra Azizi engaged Mr Kean to represent them in a case against the landlord of a premises in Athlone where they ran a restaurant called Di Bella.

Mr Kean in turn engaged Mr McGagh to represent them in court.

The restaurateurs believed they were unlawfully locked out of the premises by the now deceased landlord, Barra Flynn.

A circuit court judge ruled the landlord had lawfully taken possession of the premises.

The restaurant appealed to the High Court, where they also lodged the claim that the lawyers were negligent and in breach of duty.