Former Law Society president apologises to accountant over letter containing ‘incorrect’ allegations

Apology marks end of 14-year-long claim by Bobby Fitzgerald for €50,000 damages for defamation of character

Former Law Society president Maura Derivan and her solicitor husband, Patrick, on Tuesday publicly apologised in court to a Co Tipperary accountant for having published a letter containing “incorrect and not true” allegations in relation to him.

Mr Paul O’Higgins SC, counsel for the Derivans, read a statement of apology before Judge Michael Walsh in the Circuit Civil Court, marking the end of a 14-year-long claim by Bobby Fitzgerald for €50,000 damages for defamation of character.

Chartered accountant Mr Fitzgerald, head partner of Fitzgerald Fleming Long Accountants, Cregg, Carrick-on-Suir, had travelled from Co Tipperary this morning to be present for the reading out of the statement of apology. The Derivans were not present in court.

The case arose from alleged defamatory statements in written correspondence by Derivan Sexton and Co in matters relating to one of their clients, plasterer Bernard Brophy, of Owning, Piltown, Co Kilkenny, who had been joined as a defendant in the case and who had been involved in a house purchase with Mr Fitzgerald.


The statement of apology read: “The first and second named defendant now understand and accept that the allegations in the letter of June 9th, 2009, (defamatory letter) are incorrect and not true and unreservedly apologise and retract them and regret that the letter was sent.”

The claim was for €50,000 damages, in accordance with then-existing legislation, but it is believed legal costs on both sides ran to hundreds of thousands of euro. No reference was made in court with regard to details of a settlement other than the reading of the statement of apology.

Ms Derivan, who practises as Derivan Sexton and Company Solicitors, New Street, Carrick-on-Suir, in November completed her two-year term of office as president of the Law Society.

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