A solicitor took a €246,000 fee with no proper paper trail from a woman whom she had represented in two medical negligence cases, it was alleged yesterday.
William Waters, the son of Ann Waters, who died aged 50 in 2014, has taken his case against lawyer Maura Derivan to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
At a hearing yesterday, Mr Waters, from Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, questioned the validity of documents in the case and his mother’s signature on them.
Ms Waters received a €2.2m payout in January 2012 as settlement for two medical negligence cases in which she was represented by Ms Derivan, who denies the allegations against her.
Her senior counsel, Jack Fitzgerald, told the tribunal that she would be giving evidence to support her case.
Mr Fitzgerald produced a hand-written “solicitor and client agreement” which he said was created on the day Ms Waters settled the negligence cases in January 2012 and signed by her that March.
It showed Ms Waters had agreed to fees of €200,000 plus VAT, to cover the historical case and opinion work done for her, he said.
Mr Waters, who has no legal representation in the case, said that he had no previous knowledge of the document and said it “could have been jotted down yesterday”.
He questioned the validity of his mother’s signature on it.
Mr Waters also questioned what happened to a sum of €578,500, which was given to his mother in 61 cheques for sums ranging from €5,000 to €45,000 after the settlement.
“Are you questioning if she got that for herself?” Mr Fitzgerald asked.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Mr Waters said. “I’m not sure what’s been done with the money.”
He said his mother led a frugal life. “My mother only shopped in Dunnes and Penneys,” he added.
He also questioned whether the signatures on the cheques were genuine.
Mr Fitzgerald said Ms Derivan’s evidence will be that she gave the cheques to Ms Waters, and has bank account details which show this.
The tribunal was also told Ms Derivan had given money, interest free, to Ms Waters at a time of financial trouble.
Under cross-examination, Mr Waters accepted he and other members of his family made numerous trips with his mother to the office of Ms Derivan, where she picked up cheques.
Mr Fitzgerald said his client will give evidence that she was instructed to pay sums of money totalling €140,000 to four unnamed individuals and that, for reasons of solicitor client privilege, she could not say who these people were.
“She’s doing what she should do as a good solicitor, keeping things secret,” he added.
Elaine Waters, the sister of Mr Waters, told the tribunal her mother didn’t even have four friends to give money to.
Mr Waters alleged Ms Derivan delayed the probate process, was deceptive towards him and his brother and took advantage of his mother’s vulnerability.
The hearing continues.