Struck off Tuam solicitor refused order to refund thousands in excessive fees

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A former Tuam solicitor was found guilty of misconduct for charging tens of thousands in unnecessary fees and refusing an order to refund them.

Thomas O’Donoghue was already stuck off by the President of the High Court in December for refusing to comply with different undertakings given to him.

Now the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal has found him guilty of misconduct for €33,880 in excessive fees for managing the estate of the late Joan Niland.

He had previously by ordered to refund the fees to the family of Mrs. Niland by a Law Society committee, but failed to comply with the order.

According to the Irish Independent the Tribunal heard that letters he produced to justify the fees weren’t genuine and were manufactured after the event.

The Tribunal found him guilty of five counts of misconduct and declared that he wasn’t fit to be a member of the legal profession.

Mr O’Donghue was not present at the hearing, he closed his Tuam practice in 2011 and is not believed to be living in Ireland.

This case started when Mrs. Niland’s daughters Yvonne and Geraldine saw arbitrary amounts taken from their mothers estate without a proper breakdown of fees.

Mr O’Donoghue, who got the probate order to sell Mrs Niland’s house when she died in 2007 and administered her estate, did answer communications from them.

Though the Law Society agreed with their claim that the fess taken were excessive and ordered a refund, Geraldine Niland was eventually forced to make a claim with the Society’s Compensation fund.