Solicitor charges fees of €344k on a child's estate of €454k

Brendan Burgess

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Solicitor repays €344,000 in ‘extortionate’ fees he paid himself from child’s estate

Declan O’Callaghan, from Ballaghaderreen, charged €1,800 to send a letter to counsel

Mr O’Callaghan had told the independent solicitor he believed he had instructions via the child’s grandparents to deduct the fees but now accepted that was a mistaken belief and the €344,000 payments were not lawfully authorised, the judge noted.


The independent solicitor’s report also raised “very serious questions” about the level of fees which the court had read about those fees with “increasing levels of disbelief” and considered them “disquieting”.


The report expressed concerns about timesheets kept and noted fees charged included €1,800 for sending a letter to counsel; €1,600 for receiving a letter from counsel and €2,000 for a consultation. The solicitor also charged some €8,000 for his time spent researching and drafting an issue he was not instructed to do.



The Law Society was not impressed

The regulation of practice (RTP) committee of the Society will hear details of the proposals next week to decide if they are adequate or whether the Society should proceed with its application to suspend the solicitor from practice pending a hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
 

Delboy

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I'm not sure why your surprised. Barristers and Solicitors are the true Government in this country...untouchables that even the Troika couldn't take on. They have their fingers in every aspect of Irish society and rule the roost.
Occasionally an exception case like this gets pulled up and even then, he gets off light. Imagine what they are actually getting away it both in plain sight and behind closed doors!
 

Black Sheep

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Those of us older folk living in small towns were brought up to believe that solicitors, accountants, doctors, priests, nuns, bankers etc were of a superior class to the rest of us working class people. We didn't dare question anything they said.
Unfortunately this has not totally changed as I have received many a raised eyebrow for asking awkward questions but I will continue to do so and will always get a written quote before agreeing to a deal.
Where has trust gone?
 

T McGibney

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Those of us older folk living in small towns were brought up to believe that solicitors, accountants, doctors, priests, nuns, bankers etc were of a superior class to the rest of us working class people. We didn't dare question anything they said.
You must be very old. ;) I'm 30 years working in accountancy next month and even in my early days as a trainee in a midlands town, I never saw any sign whatsoever of customer deference towards accountants, especially when tax bills or sheriff's warrants would arrive. :eek: Ditto bank managers who often were expected in those days to hide dodgy money or give loans that customers clearly couldn't afford and who were the worst guys in the world when they couldn't deliver.
 

Delboy

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There never was any deference to accountants that I saw/heard. You only have to look at the IT on Saturday and O'Toole's piece on David Drumm...he actually uses his profession as a put down!
 

trojan

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I think there is an age gap here. In the fifties when I started working in a Bank such people already listed like Bank Managers and the like were considered all powerful.
 

LDFerguson

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I think there is an age gap here. In the fifties when I started working in a Bank such people already listed like Bank Managers and the like were considered all powerful.
I agree. I think we have to go a bit further back. My late father was born in a small Irish village in 1917 and I remember hearing many tales from him of the way that the local priest, bank manager and solicitor in particular were held as unquestionable figures of authority and automatic respect locally.
 

SBarrett

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€1,600 to receive a letter?!!! I'd say it was a case of being investigated and making up a time sheet to fit the figures charged.

A complete lack of ethics and morals by this solicitor. He should rightly be suspended and it should not be the court who should be considering the staff who work in the practice. This is wholly on the solicitor who knew what he was doing was wrong.

Steven
www.bluewaterfp.ie
 

Seagull

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The law society are looking to have him suspended. If you read the article

In addition to paying over the €344,000, Declan O’Callaghan, practising from Pound Street, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, has made proposals to the Law Society aimed at allowing him continue to practice under supervision of another solicitor, the president of the High Court was told on Friday.

The regulation of practice (RTP) committee of the Society will hear details of the proposals next week to decide if they are adequate or whether the Society should proceed with its application to suspend the solicitor from practice pending a hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Earlier, the judge noted the committee, having considered reports into the solicitor’s practice, resolved last March to refer him to the disciplinary tribunal for an inquiry into his conduct. It then, “rather unusually”, authorised the Society to apply for an order suspending him from practice and other reliefs.
 

SBarrett

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The law society are looking to have him suspended. If you read the article
I did. That's why I referred to the courts comments and not The Law Society's.

The judge said suspension would have a detrimental effect, not just on the solicitor but would also jeopardise nine staff employed at the practice “who were not responsible at all for this unfortunate business”.
 

Bronte

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BB what’s even better is that despite two cases of taking spectacular sums of money he is still not struck off the roll of solicitors. Even more fantastic, his daughter now has his solicitors practice. I thought that was a howl. No further comment from me on this so that you don’t not get sued. What a country.

Well done the IT.
 
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Brendan Burgess

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A different solicitor had his fees reduced by €650k by the Taxing Master.

He appealed to the High Court, which rejected the appeal.

Solicitor loses challenge over reducing costs by €650k

Unfortunately, it doesn't tell us what the fees were reduced from.

And there seems some dispute over €190k of it.

However, he said he had a reservation concerning one item where Mr Buckley claimed to have discharged a €190,000 account of a man in full on instructions.


If it could be established at the plenary hearing that payment was made, the Taxing Master's findings should be adjusted in Mr Buckley's favour.


Brendan
 

Brendan Burgess

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He was before the Solicitors' Tribunal this week



In 1990, the High Court had curtailed O’Callaghan’s legal career, directing that for three years he could practise only under the supervision of a more experienced solicitor.

....

Catalogue of behaviour
At Tuesday’s hearing, Ms Bird laid out plainly, enumerating through the alphabet, a relentless litany of theft, fraud, forgery and lying – the conduct that led to O’Callaghan’s professional curtailment. It was a catalogue of behaviour that might have been expected to be of interest to gardaí, had they known.

....

There were three members of the 1990 committee of inquiry but, despite what they discovered, only one of them felt O’Callaghan’s behaviour made him unfit to be a solicitor and that he should be barred from the profession permanently.

The other two recommended, and the High Court accepted, that he be allowed continue in practice, watched over for three years, after which, he could resume – which he did.
 

Brendan Burgess

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This came to a head now because he owed money to another solicitor who complained to the Law Society

since 2014, persistently and illegally as his barrister, Michael Mullooly, acknowledged, O’Callaghan had held on to €17,250 that did not belong to him, money he was professionally and morally obliged to give to another solicitor. Further, he had not reimbursed the other solicitor the €7,125 that solicitor had been forced to spend chasing O’Callaghan for the money.
 
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