Solicitor involved in ‘serious overcharging’
The case of a solicitor who disputes he overcharged a former client by more than €650,000 was described by an experienced legal costs accountant as the “worst case of overcharging” he had ever encountered, the High Court has heard.
Decisions of a High Court taxing master showed Wicklow-based solicitor Joseph Buckley was involved in “serious overcharging”, involving sums up to €700,000, of Denis Doyle, Paul Anthony McDermott SC, for Mr Doyle, said.
Mr Buckley had double-charged, charged for work he did not do and charged excessive fees, he said.
There was an element of “Halloween” here because Mr Buckley’s objections to taxing master Declan O’Neill’s findings in relation to various bills of costs of the solicitor raised issues of “ghost files and ghost boxes”, he said.
The taxing master had said Mr Doyle, a client of Mr Buckley’s for more than 10 years from 1998 was at best presented with bills of “almost impenetrable opaqueness”. While Mr Buckley argued Mr Doyle consented to the fees and signed bills, there was an issue whether that was informed consent.
The taxing master had also expressed “huge concerns” about Mr Buckley’s credibility following an incident where Mr Doyle alleged he was “verbally assaulted” by the solicitor in the court precincts.
Mr Buckley denied that happened, a digital recording showed words were said and Mr Buckley was insisting the taxing master was not entitled to listen to that recording, counsel said.