A solicitor who represented the singer-songwriter Johnny Duhan has been found guilty of misconduct and ordered to pay him €7,500.
Eddie McGarr of McGarr Solicitors, Dublin, did not keep his client properly informed of the costs involved in an action Mr Duhan took to recover unpaid royalties relating to his best-known song The Voyage.
Mr McGarr also misled the Law Society by “concocting” an S68 form outlining the potential costs involved in the action which he had claimed to have sent to Mr Duhan at the start of the action in 2001.
The tribunal was satisfied that the document had never been sent.
The document caused the society to dismiss Mr Duhan’s original complaint, Law Society tribunal chairman Michael Lanigan said.
Mr McGarr was found guilty on three counts of professional misconduct. Mr Lanigan said Mr McGarr's behaviour in not responding to Mr Duhan's repeated texts, emails and phone calls was "egregious" and amounted to a breach of the standards of those engaged in the profession.
He fined Mr McGarr €7,500 and ordered to pay him €600 in costs.
Mr Duhan first employed Mr McGarr in 2001 to recover royalties from a successful CD and video by The Irish Tenors which featured his most famous song The Voyage, the best known version being record.
The CD/video sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States. Mr Duhan sued three companies for unauthorised use of his copyright and unpaid royalties.
He said at the time when he first engaged the services of Mr McGarr he was “completely broke with no money coming in”.
Mr Duhan alleged Mr McGarr acted unprofessionally to him in refusing to disclose the exact costs involved when both defendants offered a settlement of €50,000 in 2008.
He described himself as “outraged” to be told by Mr McGarr’s son Simon in March 2008 that the costs of the “all-in settlement” could be €50,000, leaving him with nothing.
Mr Duhan (63), from Barna, County Galway, said he had sleepless nights over the possible costs of the action and he said he spent seven months trying to elicit an exact figure from Mr McGarr.
After sending two registered letters, Mr McGarr finally gave him a sum of €16,131 in November 2008.
Mr Duhan told the tribunal that his former solicitor had quoted him the €50,000 because he did not want him to settle the action.
Instead, he wanted him to go to the High Court where he would accrue higher solicitors’ fees “win, lose or draw”.