Golfer’s €500k bill for handicap case

A pensioner who lost a case about his golf handicap faces having to pay a legal bill which could run to €500,000.

The golfer who lost his case, which lasted 83 days in the High and Supreme Courts, was yesterday told he will have to pay the massive legal costs of the action.

Thomas Talbot, aged 76, said the bill of €500,000 could have been avoided if the lawyers seeking the costs “had paid me the money they are charging”.

The retired insurance official’s lost an action in which he claimed defamation and conspiracy against the Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Dublin, one of its officers, Eddie Murphy, and against the Golfing Union of Ireland.

He claimed a certificate sent to him in 2003 by the club’s handicap sub-committee, stating his handicap was 13, with the words “General Play (Handicap Building)”, meant he was cheating. The claims were denied.

Earlier this month, in rejecting Mr Talbot’s appeal against a July 2012 High Court decision against him, the Supreme Court said it was a case that had lasted 83 days over what was a simple matter. Chief Justice Susan Denham called for improved judicial management of cases as a result in order that best use can be made of court resources.

Yesterday, when the case came back for the court to deal with ancillary matters, counsel for the defendants applied for their costs, which had also been awarded against Mr Talbot in the High Court.

In a prepared reply, Mr Talbot, who has represented himself, continued to dispute the issues in the case. In response to the Chief Justice’s recommendation about better case management, he said it was lawyers for the defendants who had been “time-wasting” and not him.

The solution to the issue of “long disputation” was for the half million euro in costs being charged by lawyers in the case to be paid to him, he said.

Chief Justice Denham said the general rule that “costs follow the event” applied here and the court saw no reason to depart from it.


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