Solicitor intimidation

The murky events continue in the solicitor’s theft case. On last Monday’s Liveline

Noel Barry of the survivors group Right of Place related how some solicitors are intimidating clients who made complaints against them. The solicitors are putting pressure on their clients to say that they only made an enquiry rather than a complaint regarding “overcharging’.

One of the complainants, Mary, who was robbed of €10,500 a year and a half ago, got her money back but her request for interest on the sum was refused. A very interesting aspect of this case is that Mary got her money back through the Law Society and was given no explanation of why it was taken in the first place.

It seems, therefore, that in addition to acting as judge and jury on solicitors found guilty the Law Society is also acting as a kind of buffer between the accused and their victims.

This, of course, is related to the fact that the Law Society operates in a conflict of interest environment. It represents solicitors while at the same time making the regulations that they must abide by. It is obvious from Mary’s case that the Society favours its members over their victims.

There are some other “interesting’ aspects of this case that should be kept in mind.

1.The allegations against the solicitors amount to very serious criminal charges yet the Law Society is allowed to conduct its own “court’ behind closed doors, in secret. A spokesman for the Law Society in England informed me that in a similar situation it would be unlikely his society would be granted such powers.

Under the 1994 Solicitors Amendment Act, it is illegal for a solicitor to deduct a percentage of any damages awarded to a client by a court. There is evidence that this law has been repeatedly broken by solicitors and could amount to the theft of millions from clients. Despite this there is no interest whatsoever from the Law Society or the Government in conducting an investigation.

There are dozens of so-called regulators in Ireland that cost the taxpayer millions every year. None of them are effective in doing their jobs. Practically every incidence of corruption revealed in the last twenty five years has been by the media, by error or in recent times by whistleblowers.