Law Society defends its handling of Thomas Byrne case
The Law Society has today strongly defended the way that it handled the Thomas Byrne case. The representatives and regulators of the legal profession maintain that they have handled the case with the upmost professionalism and have dismissed calls to change the way they regulate in the future. They have described Mr. Byrne’s crimes as “disgraceful and abhorrent” and have confirmed that they have paid €7.2 million covering the legal fees of Thomas Byrne’s victims.
Their defensive remarks come less than 24 hours after the ex-solicitor was sentenced to 16 years in jail with the last four years suspended for committing the largest case of white collar fraud ever seen in the Irish state. He was convicted of stealing €52 million from banks and conning 13 of his former clients out of their money and family homes.
The Law Society has been challenged by many of the victims to pay out massive amounts of compensation as a result of the case and have been widely criticised for not doing more to prevent Mr. Byrne from committing his crimes. They maintain however, that in 2007 they did investigate allegations made against the solicitor but found no evidence of fraud being committed.
There have been wide appeals from the victims for the Law Society not to be allowed to be internally regulated as a result of this case. Paul Costigan, whose mother in law was a victim of fraud has said “As far as we’re concerned, they [the Law Society] make the rules. It’s their game, and it seems to be a bit of a closed shop.”