Solicitor with ‘very bad record’ must work under supervision

John Condon fails in High Court bid to overturn decision

A solicitor with a "very bad record" of professional misconduct has failed in his High Court bid to overturn a decision he can only practise under supervision of another solicitor.

John Condon, a solicitor for the last 35 years and principal of McMahon and Tweedy, Merchant's Quay, Dublin, challenged a Law Society committee's requirement that his practising certificate for 2016 would only be issued on the basis of him being supervised by a lawyer of 10 years standing.

He claimed he did not require supervision at all and was given no opportunity to make submissions to the Law Society’s complaints and clients relation committee before it decided to impose the condition.

He asked the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, to overturn the decision.


Mr Justice Kelly, who described Mr Condon as having a “very bad record” with no fewer than eight findings of misconduct made against him between 2010 and 2015, said the decision was “fully justified”.

The findings resulted in him been censured on seven occasions and admonished on the eight.

The judge said that, in 2015, the complaints committee had also directed he work under supervision and Mr Condon brought a High Court challenge to this.

That ultimately meant the supervisory solicitor, who was nominated for the job by Mr Condon himself, was only able to attend Mr Condon’s office for the first time on December 21st 2015. It also meant supervision lasted for little more than a week, including the Christmas vacation, Mr Justice Kelly said.

That supervisory solicitor, Bill Stokes, produced a report in which he initially praised Mr Condon as being "an extremely good academic" having published a book on capital acquisition tax which is now on its 16th edition.

Mr Stokes said, like many very good academics, Mr Condon tended to lack pragmatism, management skills and business acumen.

Mr Stokes found a huge backlog of mail, was also concerned about some pressure on the office account but was pleased to note there had been no new complaints against Mr Condon.

Verbal abuse

Mr Stokes was “appalled and concerned with the verbal abuse, humiliation, bullying and general manner in which he (Condon) treats his secretary”. Mr Stokes added he had a great deal more to say about what he found before he left but “to do so would constitute an injury to the environment by committing further word to paper”.

Mr Justice Kelly rejected all of Mr Condon’s complaints about the way the Law Society committee treated him.

The judge said, in one of Mr Condon’s meetings with the committee, a transcript showed Mr Condon never engaged at all with the concerns of the committee.

In one exchange, Mr Condon said the definition of misconduct, which once meant something dishonourable, or which brought the profession into disrepute, had been extended to “anything minor like if you didn’t do a thing exactly on time”.

He had also said he “didn’t do anything reprehensible”.

He also said: “I’ve had loads of opportunities to make a lot of money like backdating documents or pretending transactions happen before they have. I don’t do that stuff and if there’s any misconduct or whatever, it’s just basically not getting around to do anything or something”.

Mr Justice Kelly said he supported the complaints committee’s recommendation Mr Condon could only continue to practice under supervision.

He added he hoped this would be the final chapter in this “saga of litigation” and told Mr Condon he would be well advised to co-operate with the supervisory regime.