Solicitor who admits fraud with client monies is struck off

David Doyle used funds from one client’s account to pay off another customer, court heard

Solicitor  had ceased practising, had to sell his family home to refund a deficit in his client account and now only has a small pension. Photograph: iStock

Solicitor had ceased practising, had to sell his family home to refund a deficit in his client account and now only has a small pension. Photograph: iStock

 

A solicitor who admitted multiple counts of misconduct involving serious fraud with client monies has been struck off by the president of the High Court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly was also told a Garda Bureau of Fraud investigation into the activities of David Doyle, previously practising as partner in Doyle Associates in Main Street, Rathfarnham, Dublin, was at an advanced stage.

The judge, noting Mr Doyle was a solicitor of 40 years with a previously unblemished record, said it was to his credit he did not try to attach any blame to his junior partner in the firm who did not know what Mr Doyle was doing.

He also noted Mr Doyle had ceased practising, had to sell his family home to refund a deficit in his client account and now only has a small pension.

Mary Fenelon, solicitor for the Law Society which applied for the strike off, said a Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal report found Mr Doyle was involved in a very serious breach of solicitor account regulations and in fraud of the most serious kind.

The court heard it involved multiple occasions of what is known as “teeming and lading” where monies from one client’s accounts are used to pay off another customer, thereby hiding the deficit.

The misconduct went back more more than ten years and by October 2017 Mr Doyle caused a minimum deficit on one client’s account of nearly €259,000.

Ms Fenelon, in an affidavit, said in 2008 he wrongfully paid €17,300 for a man’s personal injuries case settlement from the sale of a house in Ballinteer, Dublin, which was totally unrelated to the personal injuries matter. He admitted causing a debit balance of €99,600 in relation to the sale of that house.

Other findings of misconduct included that in 2009, he took a cheque due to a woman client for €2,500 from that Ballinteer house sale and cashed it for his own use. He took two further cheques, totalling €6,500 due to the same woman and by February 2009 there was a shortfall on the woman’s account of €894.

In October 2014, he took some €55,491 from a client ledger and paying it to another estate beneficiary in an unrelated matter. That same year, he took €58,500 from an unrelated client account of a deceased client and used it to pay for a settlement.

In 2015, he also caused a shortfall of €21,500 on one client account to part-pay a settlement for Circuit Court proceedings against Mr Doyle himself. He also used €16,500 for an estate to pay a settlement against him in other proceedings.

In September 2015, he wrongfully paid €46,623 from the proceeds of a property sale of two clients to the Revenue to discharge inheritance tax liability on another completely unrelated matter.

In July 2017, he took some €113,000 due to the estate of a deceased woman and lodged it ot his personal account.

He caused a shortfall on another woman’s estate of around €13,000 by paying inheritance tax of a beneficiary from an another unrelated client account.

Also in July 2017, he paid around €48,000 from his own bank account to discharge the mortgage accounts of the clients in that property sale.

He caused a debit balance of some €59,000 on an account for another woman’s estate by wrongfully paying inheritance tax due on completely unrelated matters.

He made a payment to his brother Leonard Doyle of €5,000 and to Bord Gais of €6,000 and posted them to the account of a client in a completely unrelated matter.

A solicitor representing Mr Doyle said his client was consenting to the strike off order. He had fully cooperated with the Law Society investigation and arranged for the deficit to be cleared, he said.

Mr Justice Kelly said notwithstanding his admissions and cooperation, the findings of the disciplinary tribunal involved fraud of a most serious and numerous kind. He had no option but to make the order striking him off.

The judge gave him 12 months to pay €3,012 towards the Law Society’s costs.