Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal adjourns case against Roscommon lawyer

Tom Fleming complained about Declan O’Callaghan to the tribunal in May 2010

On Tuesday, Declan  O’Callaghan applied for a hearing, set for January 24th, to be adjourned. Photograph:  Collins

On Tuesday, Declan O’Callaghan applied for a hearing, set for January 24th, to be adjourned. Photograph: Collins

 

A Roscommon man who has been trying for 13 years to get from the suspended Ballaghaderreen solicitor Declan O’Callaghan money he says he is owed, has had his case against the lawyer adjourned by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Tom Fleming of Cloonfad, Co Roscommon, together with his son, Sean Fleming, complained about Mr O’Callaghan to the tribunal in May 2010. In February 2011 the tribunal held that Mr O’Callaghan had a case to answer for misconduct because he allegedly acted for both sides in a land sale in December 2006 and allegedly failed to ensure that money from the sale, which the Flemings maintain is €250,000, was given to them.

However, the case has not been heard.

On Tuesday, Mr O’Callaghan applied for a hearing, set for January 24th, to be adjourned.

Counsel for Mr O’Callaghan, Michael Mulloley BL (instructed by Staunton Caulfield Solicitors), said that a separate civil action against Mr O’Callaghan, a case of alleged professional negligence, which is set for a four-day High Court hearing in May, could be prejudiced if the disciplinary tribunal heard evidence beforehand.

The Flemings’ case against Mr O’Callaghan relates to the alleged sale by Tom Fleming of 15 acres to a developer, named before the tribunal as Frederick Preston. Mr O’Callaghan maintains that the transaction was to be accompanied by a share transfer, not cash – something Mr Fleming disputes.

Mr Mulloley on Tuesday described Mr Preston as “a reluctant witness” in the civil action but said his presence in that action was “an absolute essential”. To have Mr Fleming’s case against Mr O’Callaghan heard by the disciplinary tribunal would amount to a “dry run” of the civil case, he argued.

Mr Fleming, who represented himself at the tribunal, accompanied by a supporter, Aindriu Holst, described the request for an adjournment as “a gimmick and a frivolous thing”.

“This has been going on a long time,” he told the three-person panel of adjudicators, solicitors Justin McKenna and Philip Joyce (chairman), and lay member Vera Kelly.

He argued that the civil action and the complaint before the tribunal were “two different cases and this one should go ahead anyway”.

Mr Joyce noted that in May 2018, the tribunal ruled that the High Court civil action should take precedence over the complaint before it. Granting the application for an adjournment, he told Mr Fleming that the hearing of his complaint would take place on “a date shortly after the High Court proceedings”.