Court of Appeal: Ample evidence of solicitor’s bad record justified conditions imposed on his practicing certificates

A solicitor who has had conditions imposed on his practicing certificates for the last three years has had his case against the Law Society of Ireland dismissed in the Court of Appeal.

Mr John F. Condon sought to appeal two decisions in the High Court relating to conditions imposed on his 2015 and 2016 certificates, including the requirement to work under the supervision of another solicitor. Delivering the judgment of the Court, Mr Justice John Hedigan noted that the challenge to conditions upon both practicing certificates was now moot, but stated that he would uphold both High Court decisions given the ample evidence before the Court of the solicitor’s bad record.


At the outset of the judgment, Justice Hedigan noted that Mr Condon’s recent record in his practice as a solicitor was “a very bad one”, having 8 findings of professional misconduct against him between 2010 and 2015. Furthermore, Mr Condon had been directed by the Law Society to pay to it over €20,000 in respect of such findings – however “the bulk if not all of such monies remains unpaid”.

As such, Justice Hedigan stated that Mr Condon’s attitude demonstrated “a lack of insight into the grave professional problems” in which he has been involved.

Conditions were imposed on his practicing certificates for 2010, 2014 and 2015; and at the time of his application for the 2016 practicing certificate, he had five inquiries pending before the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Law Society.

In respect of his 2015 certificate, he was required to work under the supervision of another solicitor, who “produced a report which was of a highly critical nature”, identifying huge arrears of correspondence in Mr Condon’s office and raising questions about the office account.

The Court heard that Mr Condon subsequently wrote to the supervising solicitor criticising his report and threatening to sue him.

In respect of his 2016 practicing certificate, the committee decided that it would issue him a practising certificate, but with conditions attached including supervision by a solicitor of ten years standing to be approved in advance by the committee. In response, Mr Condon raised a number of complaints concerning fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice.

In separate High Court proceedings, Mr Condon challenged the findings of the committee relating to his 2015 and 2016 certificates; and Mr Condon sought to appeal both decisions in the Court of Appeal.

Court of Appeal

Justice Hedigan first dealt with the challenge to the conditions imposed on the 2016 certificate.

In the high court in July 2016, President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly relied upon the judgment of Re Crowley IR 106, finding that the Court should show a measure of curial deference to the specialist committee – thus dismissing Mr Condon’s case.

One of the complaints put forward about President Kelly’s judgment, was that the judge had been “blind-sided” by the affidavit of Mary Fenelon; who described how Mr Condon had been held in contempt of Court by the then President of the High Court, and that it was only under the threat of immediate imprisonment that Mr Condon complied with the order made against him.

Justice Hedigan was satisfied that there was “no basis whatsoever upon which President Kelly was wrong either on the facts or in law has been identified”, and that “there did exist a clear and present danger of inadequate service to the public and a continuance of unprofessional conduct” contrary to the Solicitors Act 1954.

The power to apply conditions to Mr Condon’s practicing certificate “was necessarily applied so as to protect the public and indeed the solicitor himself from the consequences of such inadequate service, the probability of which had been amply demonstrated”.

Thus, Mr Justice Hedigan dismissed this ground of appeal

The second issue dealt with by Justice Hedigan was the appeal brought against Justice Kearns’ decision in relation to Mr Condon’s 2015 practicing certificate. Noting the issue of mootness, Justice Hedigan emphasised that President Kearns had regard to s. 49(1)(q) of the Solicitors Act 1954 in making his decision, and that in any even his findings would stand.

  • by Seosamh Gráinséir for Irish Legal News
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