‘The Voyage’ singer-songwriter accuses solicitor of bullying and coercion

Johnny Duhan said he endured sleepless nights worrying about costs of legal action

Singer-songwriter Johnny Duhan. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Singer-songwriter Johnny Duhan. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy


Singer-songwriter Johnny Duhan has accused his former solicitor of attempting to “bully and coerce” him over unpaid royalties for his most famous song The Voyage.

Mr Duhan, who lives in Barna, Co Galway, said he had endured sleepless nights for seven months over the prospect that solicitor’s fees would swallow up the €50,000 he had been offered in a settlement.

He employed Eddie McGarr of McGarr Solicitors in Dublin as his solicitor in 2001 to recover unpaid royalties and damages for breach of copyright arising out of The Irish Tenors CD and video, which sold more than 500,000 copies in the US. It included a version of The Voyage, made famous by Christy Moore.

Mr Duhan told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal he was told the legal costs involved in the “all-in settlement” for €50,000 would be the same as what was being offered by the defendants. He would be left with nothing.

He said Mr McGarr refused to give a breakdown of the costs when the figure was suggested in March 2008. Later that year, after he sent him two registered letters, Mr McGarr finally came back with a figure of €16,131, which he still said was only an estimate.

Against settlement
Mr Duhan alleged that Mr McGarr suggested the €50,000 figure because he did not want to settle the case. He wanted to take it to the High Court where he would have got a higher solicitor’s fee “win, lose or draw”.

Mr McGarr denied any wrongdoing. He said he had made it clear to Mr Duhan from the beginning there would be costs involved which “would not be small”.

After three hours of deliberations, tribunal chairman Michael Carrigan adjourned the issue until this afternoon.

Mr Duhan settled the copyright case for €35,000 at the High Court in May, having fired Eddie McGarr as his representative.