And finally… orders are orders

A solicitor tried to defraud the Revenue Commissioners by underpaying €147,000 in stamp duty… because his client asked him to.

The High Court heard that Raymond St John O’Neill, 61, admitted he had previously allowed underpayments for clients but believed he was entitled to do so on the basis he was applying the date on which the property deeds became available.

He had admitted the past behaviour and promised not to do it again, but his lawyer told the court that a client later persuaded him otherwise — so he broke the law again.

As he had broken his previous promise, the Law Society recommended that he should be struck off.

However, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal recommended he be required to work under another solicitor of ten years’ standing.

Paul Anthony McDermott, counsel for the Law Society, told the court that it was not sufficient for a lawyer to say his client had instructed him to do something which is illegal.

Mr O’Neill has been practising law for 36 years and has an otherwise unblemished record.

Mr Justice Kearns accepted the tribunal’s recommendation that he only work under a restricted practising certificate.

Share icon
Share this article: