So­lic­i­tor loses ap­peal on €500,000 charge

Irish Independent - - News - An­drew Phe­lan

A SO­LIC­I­TOR who was found to have over­charged a client by more than €500,000 has failed in bid to have the de­ci­sion ju­di­cially re­viewed.

Wick­low-based so­lic­i­tor Joseph Buck­ley brought a case to the Court of Ap­peal over an ear­lier re­fusal by the High Court to grant him a ju­di­cial re­view.

He had been seek­ing a re­view of a de­ci­sion by the High Court Tax­ing Master who ex­am­ined bills for work the so­lic­i­tor car­ried out for publi­can De­nis Doyle. The three-judge ap­peal court yes­ter­day dis­missed his ap­pli­ca­tion.

The Tax­ing Master, De­clan O’Neill, ruled ear­lier this year fol­low­ing a marathon le­gal case that Mr Buck­ley had over-

charged Mr Doyle by hun­dreds of thou­sands of euro. The is­sues has been in dis­pute for the past seven years and Mr Buck­ley pre­vi­ously sought a ju­di­cial re­view from the High Court but it ruled this was not “the ap­pro­pri­ate rem­edy for his at­tempts to chal­lenge the de­ci­sion of the Tax­ing Master”.

In his ap­peal against that de­ci­sion, Mr Buck­ley’s bar­ris­ter John Fitzger­ald SC told the Court of Ap­peal yes­ter­day “rules were bro­ken” at a Tax­ing Master’s hear­ing on April 30, 2014. Mr Buck­ley was al­leged to have made “rep­re­hen­si­ble” re­marks to Mr Doyle dur­ing a lunchtime in­ter­val.

He had ini­tially de­nied mak­ing them, but Mr O’Neill later checked the court’s dig­i­tal au­dio record­ing, and a stenog- ra­pher gave sworn ev­i­dence the words had been said. Mr Buck­ley had apol­o­gised and agreed to have his bills taxed.

How­ever, Mr Fitzger­ald ar­gued yes­ter­day the Tax­ing Master had con­ducted an un­law­ful “tri­bunal of en­quiry” that had breached Mr Buck­ley’s right to fair pro­ce­dures, and ev­ery­thing sub­se­quent was “tainted”.

Paul An­thony McDer­mott SC, for the Tax­ing Master, said Mr Buck­ley had con­sented to the bills be­ing taxed and “you can­not chal­lenge your own con­sent”.

Mr Jus­tice Sean Ryan said: “It seems to me that this ap­pli­ca­tion does not get to first base.” He dis­missed the ap­peal.

Other pro­ceed­ings re­lated to the case are due be­fore the High Court in a few weeks.

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