William James Murphy v Oliver Sheerin

JudgeKearns P.
Judgment Date26 January 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IEHC 33
Docket NumberRecord No. 126/SA/2014
CourtHigh Court
Date26 January 2015

[2015] IEHC 33


Record No. 126/SA/2014
Murphy v Sheerin
A Solicitor
The appellant

Legal Profession – Solicitors - Misconduct - Appeal

Facts: The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found a solicitor guilty of six counts of professional misconduct and not guilty in relation to six other complaints. The Tribunal made an order to sanction the respondent to a) stand censured; b) pay restitution; and c) to pay the costs of the applicant to be taxed by the taxing master to the High Court. The appellant appealed against the Tribunal”s decision. The appellant felt the respondent solicitor had been untruthful during the hearing and the Tribunal had failed to challenge the respondent solicitor to produce evidence to substantiate his submissions.

Held by Kearns P: The court considered all various transcripts, innumerable letters and communications between various parties, cash accounts, financial statements, copies of financial documentation and instruments, lease agreements, correspondence with the Law Society and the Tribunal. The court was satisfied that the Tribunal had not erred in its decision and had not failed to consider any evidence that would have determined any aspect of the appellant”s complaint. The court dismissed the appeal and made no order as to costs because both parties shared in the responsibility for the matter.

Kearns P.

By notice of motion dated 17th September 2014 the appellant, Mr. Oliver Sheerin, appeals against the decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ('the Tribunal') of 21st July 2014 and which issued on 19th August 2014. The Tribunal found the respondent solicitor guilty of six counts of professional misconduct and not guilty in relation to another six complaints.


By application to the Tribunal dated 21st June 2012 the appellant sought an inquiry into the conduct of the respondent solicitor. On 17th January, 2013 the Tribunal found that there was a prima facie case of misconduct on the part of the respondent solicitor in respect of certain allegations of misconduct while it was held that there was no prima facie case of misconduct in relation to other aspects of the complaint. The parties were notified of this decision by letter dated 23rd January 2013. The appellant appealed those aspects of this decision which were not in his favour to the High Court and a decision dismissing his appeal was issued on 29th April 2013.


In relation to the present complaint, an inquiry was held by the Tribunal over two days, commencing on 7th May 2014 and concluding on 21st July 2014. The appellant appeared on his own behalf while the respondent, who was in attendance, was represented by counsel. From the outset, the Tribunal hearing was a fractious one and the parties refused to accept books of evidence and exhibits prepared by one another. The Tribunal decided that, having regard to the complexity and contradictory nature of the contents of the affidavits furnished by the parties, the hearing should proceed by way of examining individually each of the 12 transactions in respect of which a prima facie case had been made out. These were as follows -


(i) €2.3m purchase of 4.1 acres of land at Kilcairn, Navan

(ii) The Athlumney Transaction
(iii) Barrack Street Transaction
(iv) Leesbrook Restaurant Transaction
(v) Three Tuam Units [N17]
(vi) Purchase of cottage on one acre, Boyne Road, Navan
(vii) Sale of one acre, Boyne Road, Navan
(viii) Sale of cottage, Boyne Road, Navan
(ix) Remortgage of seven properties with Bank of Ireland
(x) Draw down from Ulster Bank, Dundalk
(xi) Gavin Lease and Settlement
(xii) High Court proceedings against Joseph Gavin

The Tribunal also considered the following complaints against the respondent solicitor -


· Mr. Murphy would not answer letters which set out Mr. Sheerin's complaints


· Mr. Murphy would not surrender Mr. Sheerin's files until finally he had his solicitors intervene on his behalf and which files proved incomplete and inaccurate when finally released to Mr. Sheerin in March 2008.


After adjourning to consider all of the evidence the Tribunal sat again on 21st July 2014 to issue its decision and the respondent solicitor was found guilty of misconduct in relation to the allegations at (ii), (iii), (iv), (vii), (viii), and (x) above. After hearing submissions from both parties, the Tribunal made the following order in respect of sanction -


a) the respondent solicitor do stand censured.


b) the respondent solicitor must pay a sum of €4,800 as restitution to Mr. Oliver Sheerin, applicant herein without prejudice to any of his legal rights.


c) the respondent pay the whole of the costs of the applicant to be taxed by the taxing master of the High Court in default of agreement


It is this decision which the appellant now appeals.


The appellant states that for the past 40 years he has operated several businesses successfully and has never previously had any difficulties with any solicitor. He states that from 2002 to...

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