LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

The Morality of Lawyers acting for Banks

with 5 comments


Eviction in Ireland around 1879 ("Land Wa...
Eviction in Ireland around 1879 (“Land War”) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I qualified over thirty years ago. During that time I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with and acting against some great lawyers, both solicitors and barristers. They fight tooth and nail for their clients and after an exhausting battle, we retire for coffee, or stronger and engage with each other as colleagues. I have great memories over those years and sadly some of these people have died and moved on to greener pastures. They epitomised what the law was about. The battle was by and large, a clean one. You didn’t have to watch your back, just concentrate on the job in hand. Your clients interests were what it was about. There was always a great satisfaction when the job was done and your client went off happy. As I am not in the habit of losing cases, I can say that this was nearly always the case. That might sound smug. It’s not meant to be. I have always surrounded myself with the best team available and this has been the recipe for success.

Unfortunately, all encounters have not been as described above. When dealing with the Irish Nationwide on behalf of a client who was in financial difficulties, I encountered a somewhat different story. The client was clearly in arrears but upon investigation I couldn’t make head nor tail of the figures. No matter how I read them, they didn’t add up. The Nationwide’s solicitors just wanted an Order for Possession and were not prepared to engage in any manner so the matter proceeded in the Circuit Court. Judge Frank Roe, then President of the Circuit Court had the same difficulty with the case as I had and decided to strike out their case and awarded costs to my client. Some days later I received a phone call from the Solicitor for the Building Society. It took me aback somewhat. He told me that he was phoning me on the instructions of his client. He named his instructing Arrears Manager and said he had instructions to call me  ‘a Liar’. I asked him to repeat what he had just said and indeed he did. I asked him did he do everything his client told him to do? He replied Yes, of course. I hung up on him after a few brief words which I will not repeat.

When I was qualified a couple of years I was asked by my local friendly Bank if I would take a look at something for them. As I knew the Assistant Manager, I said ‘No problem’. I was expecting something of a personal nature as I do get the odd call from them when they encounter matrimonial difficulties and such like. What I was presented with was a list of debts outstanding at the branch. I browsed through the list and was horrified as it was like reading a list of old age pensioners in the area. The amounts varied from Fifteen to One Thousand pounds. I stormed into the Bank and informed them that under no circumstances would I take action on their behalf against these pensioners and in fact if they pursued them I would act for free for them against the Bank. I think about three of the pensioners came into me and happily all arrears were written off. It opened my eyes as to how the Banks treat weak and vulnerable people and I made a decision that day that I would never act on behalf of a Bank or Building Society ever, as a matter of principle.

Some months ago I was disgusted, while listened to the Morning Show on Newstalk, to hear a Solicitor talking about how he was really doing well acting in repossessions for the local Banks. He had no qualms about so acting. He went on to say that since the recession had taken a grip that he was now dealing with ‘a better class of client’.  I sometimes wonder about the morality of acting on behalf of some people. If solicitors really valued their clients and by clients I mean people, the citizens of this country, would they not think twice and look beyond the professional fee. How can you in all honesty act for such institutions as the Banks and the cohorts in having someone evicted from their family home ?  Do they have a conscience?  While in other countries lawyers are to the forefront of social reform and indeed put their lives on the line for their principles, it would seem that in Ireland today the lure of manna is all that excites some people who I would once have expected to be men and women of integrity.

LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 25th. April , 2012 .

Written by LegalEagleStar

April 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I just love it when you sock it to them Tom 🙂

    irishminx

    April 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

  2. Tom,
    I’ve been shafted by the best barristers/accountants in my time. who have no interest in morals or ethics, but only money. I came to your conclusion 30 years ago as well…

    Louise Hannon

    April 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm

  3. Your integrity really shines through your story and I applaud you for it, I wish that more people in your profession held to the same moral ground; however just like any other profession the bad eggs always seem to be at the center of discussions, generalisations are made and they drag the whole profession down.

    BrendanDunne

    April 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

  4. Tom was a brilliant piece. Solicitors/barristers acting on behalf of banks reminds of the agents acting

    Diarmuid

    April 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm

  5. My last comment got sent in error before it was finished. Tom that was a brilliant piece. The solicitors/barristers acting on behalf of blanks remind of agents

    Diarmuid

    April 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm


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