Solicitor fails in appeal against professional misconduct ruling

Mr Justice Michael Peart
Mr Justice Michael Peart

Solicitor Michael O’Sullivan has lost an appeal against the High Court’s 2016 finding of professional misconduct against him.

The Law Society of Ireland had successfully obtained an order for various sanctions against Mr O’Sullivan from the High Court in April 2016, including that he only be allowed to practice as an assistant solicitor under supervision.

The orders were sought following a complaint received from James Nolan, who had been represented by Mr O’Sullivan in a personal injury case, which resulted in settlement for €100,000 damages and costs.

In 2015, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that Mr O’Sullivan had unreasonably demanded payment of an excessive solicitor/client fee of €15,000 plus VAT from the complainant, that he had unreasonably failed to give an explanation for the fee, had failed to respond in an appropriate and timely manner to the request for a breakdown of the outlay for which Mr Nolan was entitled to be reimbursed, failed to provide a schedule of special damages, deducted money payable to Mr Nolan without his consent, and failed to respond in a timely manner to the Society’s request for Mr Nolan’s file.

The Tribunal recommended that he only be permitted to practice as an assistant solicitor, that he pay €10,000 to the compensation fund, €6,774.51 as restitution to Mr Nolan, and the costs of the Law Society.

Mr O’Sullivan appealed the finding on the basis that his constitutional and European Convention rights were breached.

Mr Justice Michael Peart, giving judgment on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal, dismissed the appeal on all counts.

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