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OAP yet to pay €500k legal bill in golf lawsuit

A PENSIONER who lost a €10m lawsuit against his former golf club – which he accused of damaging his reputation by lowering his handicap – has not paid any of a €500,000 legal bill awarded against him, the Herald has learned.

Thomas Talbot, a retired insurance official, argued in the High Court that his reputation was damaged after Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Dublin, reduced his handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004, claiming he was "handicap building".


The judge subsequently ruled that Mr Talbot was liable for costs, which ran into hundreds and thousands, in the case which ran for 21 days.

But the 77-year-old, who represented himself in court, confirmed yesterday he "hasn't paid a penny" since the ruling nearly 18 months ago.

"I've paid nothing – not a thing. It's a lot of money, but as it stands I haven't had an application for costs of any description from the solicitors," he said.

"I don't know why that is, and of course I would be worried if I did receive a bill.

"I'm still wondering about the legal bills, and of course it is a real concern.

"The other side got costs alright, and it was an awful lot of money, but they haven't applied for them for some reason.

"I don't think they processed anything after the ruling was made, and even if they did, they didn't proffer any bills to me."

In his ruling, Mr Justice Daniel Herbert did find the words "handicap building" defamatory, but he was satisfied the words were not published to a third party, a requirement for a document to be libellous.

Mr Talbot sued the club and its former handicap secretary, Eddie Murphy, in the High Court for defamation, but the case was struck out in July 2012.

Handicap building is purposely playing below one's ability to get a more generous stroke allowance.


Mr Talbot said he was appealing the verdict in the Supreme Court, although a date has not yet been set.

"I have to appeal – I have no choice," he said.

"I said to him (the judge) 'I will accept your decision – although I think you are totally wrong – if, at least, you don't award costs against me'. He then turned to the other side and said 'the costs are in your favour'.

"I certainly haven't a tuppence to rub together. It has to be appealed because I can't afford €500,000 costs in a case I should have won."