Law Society criticises Garda delays in solicitor investigations

Tue, Jun 21, 2011, 01:00

THE LAW Society has criticised as “incomprehensible” the length of time it has taken the Garda to investigate complaints against two Dublin solicitors, both of whom were struck off more than three years ago.

The society’s director general, Ken Murphy, said yesterday that Michael Lynn, who practised on Capel Street, and Thomas Byrne, who had a practice in Walkinstown, were separately struck off by the President of the High Court over three years ago with fines of €1 million each being imposed.

Mr Murphy said the removal of the two solicitors from the roll had followed what he described as a “speedy and effective investigation” of their misconduct by the Law Society. In contrast, he said, the Garda investigation had been under way for 3½ years, with no public certainty that prosecutions would take place. There have been several reports in recent months that the file on the investigation into Mr Byrne had been forwarded by the Garda Bureau for Fraud Investigations to the DPP, but that the file on Mr Lynn had not.

An Garda Síochána was not in a position to confirm that last night because it does not comment on individual cases.

However, The Irish Times understands gardaí have sent a number of documents to the DPP in relation to the cases.

Mr Murphy said last night the society had first reported these cases to gardaí in October 2007 and given every possible assistance to the investigation.

“We find it incomprehensible that these cases have been under investigation for more than 3½ years and still no decision has been made whether or not to proceed with criminal prosecutions,” he said. “The Law Society once again adds its frustrated voice to those who are asking whether it is a failure of investigative resources, of legislation or of will that so delays the investigation and prosecution, if warranted, of white-collar crime in Ireland.”

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter also criticised the pace of the investigation when he was Fine Gael’s spokesman for justice late last year.

“Their appalling and indefensible conduct created substantial difficulties for many individuals and undermined public confidence in the legal profession,” he said.The society’s compensation fund has paid more than €7 million to former clients of both former solicitors.

Mr Byrne is resident in Ireland while Mr Lynn is reported to have lived in Bulgaria and Portugal since fleeing Ireland in 2007.