A DONEGAL solicitor used at least €177,000 of his client’s money to pay for personal expenses, the High Court has been told.
The court was told on Tuesday that the Law Society took action against Andrew G Morrow, practising as David Wilson and Co Solicitors, Raphoe, after its regulation of practice committee decided he had been guilty of dishonesty in his practice.
Morrow has accepted that he used money from the firm’s client account for his personal pension contributions, health insurance, home bills, credit card payments and his mother’s care costs.
He has also accepted that he took steps to conceal the deficit in the client account.
The court also heard that he was trying to resolve the issues. His lawyer said he was in the process of securing loans to cover the deficit so that no client would suffer a loss.
Mr Justice David Keane made several orders against Morrow, including one freezing the solicitor’s bank accounts. The judge accepted an undertaking from him not to practise as a solicitor until all proceedings had been resolved.
Nessa Bird for the Law Society told the court that the society’s investigation of Morrow’s practice revealed a minimum deficit of €177,657 in the client account.
She said the society had been unable to ascertain the full amount of the deficit as the practice’s books of account had not been properly written up.
The society had also discovered that Morrow had attempted to conceal the deficit by recording various sums as being loans to him when they were client funds.
Solicitor Seán Sexton, for Morrow, said his client, who was in court, intended to wind down his practice and had obtained various loans to cover the deficit. Another solicitor would take over the files and assist the wind-down, he added.
Mr Sexton had asked the judge to allow the matter to be held in private till the end of the month in order to give Morrow a chance to make arrangements with clients and ensure an orderly wind-up of the practice.
The anonymity application was opposed by the society.
Mr Justice Keane, dismissing the anonymity application, said nothing had been put before the court that would merit having the hearing being conducted in private. He granted the orders sought against Morrow and adjourned further matters until later this month.