Listowel solicitor loses an appeal over a professional misconduct charge

image via By Damien Slattery - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A Listowel solicitor has lost an appeal over a professional misconduct charge.

Helen Lucey of Marshall & Macaulay, Listowel was found by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to have transferred €259,000 to herself from the client account of a deceased woman, without express instructions of the estate.

Sheila Walshe became a beneficiary of the estate of the late Naomi Dillion, and subsequently became a client of solicitor Helen Lucey.

Ms Lucey claimed a transfer of €259,000 was agreed under a 2006 negotiated settlement, following three High Court actions initiated by Ms Walshe against Ms Lucey, which never proceeded.

The claims were made against Ms Lucey in respect of alleged delays in the administration of the estate, and she counterclaimed over alleged defamation and aggravation.

Ms Lucey had claimed the transfer of funds represented half the value of her counterclaim, as reported in the Irish Examiner.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, ruled Ms Walshe was Helen Lucey’s client within the meaning of the solicitor’s account regulations, and the regulations did not permit a withdrawal such as was done here.

He will decide later whether Ms Lucey should be struck off the roll of solicitors and make full restitution, or get a lesser penalty, allowing her to continue to practise under supervision.