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'No paper trail' for my sick mother's €246k legal bill, son claims

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Solicitor Maura Derivan

Solicitor Maura Derivan

Solicitor Maura Derivan

A solicitor took a €246,000 fee with no proper paper trail from a sick woman whom she represented in two medical negligence cases, it's been alleged.

William Waters, from Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, has taken a case at the Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal against Maura Derivan, who represented his late mother Ann Waters.

Central to the case was a €2.2m payout Ms Waters received in January 2012 as settlement for two medical negligence cases. She passed away at the age of 50 in October 2014, having suffered for years with her health.

Ms Derivan denies the charges against her and her senior counsel, Jack Fitzgerald, repeatedly told the tribunal she would be giving evidence to support her case.

Mr Fitzgerald produced a hand-written "solicitor and client agreement" created the day Ms Waters settled the negligence cases and signed by her three days later.

It showed Ms Waters had agreed to fees of €200,000 plus VAT, to cover historical case and opinion work done for her, he said. The tribunal heard how Ms Derivan had given money, interest free, to Ms Waters at time of financial trouble.

Document

Mr Waters, who had no legal representation in the case, said he had no previous knowledge of the document and said it "could have been jotted down yesterday". He questioned the validity of his mother's signature on it.

Mr Waters also questioned what happened to a sum of €578,500, which was given to his mother in 61 cheques for sums ranging from €5,000 to €45,000 after the settlement.

"Are you questioning if she got that for herself," Mr Fitzgerald asked. "Yes that's exactly what I'm doing," Mr Waters said. "I'm not sure what's been done with the money."

He also questioned whether the signatures on the cheques were genuine.

Mr Fitzgerald said Ms Derivan's evidence will be she gave the cheques to Ms Waters and she has her bank account details which showed this.

In cross examination, Mr Waters accepted that he, and the other members of his family who cared for his mother, made numerous trips with her to the office of Ms Derivan, when she picked up cheques and would lodge them to her bank account.

Evidence

Mr Fitzgerald said his client will give evidence she was instructed to pay sums of money totalling €140,000 to four unnamed individuals and that, for reasons of solicitor client privilege, she could not name them.

Ms Waters sister Elaine Waters told the tribunal her mother didn't even have four friends to give money to.

Mr Waters alleged Ms Derivan seriously delayed the probate process, was deceptive towards him and his brother and took advantage of his mother's vulnerability.

The case continues.


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