Solicitor seeks €1.9m costs from student and parents

A solicitor who formerly acted for a student in proceedings over an internet video clip falsely portraying him as a taxi fare evader in Dublin when he was in Japan, is seeking €1.9m in legal costs from him and his parents, the High Court has heard.

Eamon and Fidelma McKeogh, parents of Eoin McKeogh, aged 23, of Donadea, Co Kildare, say they were never clients of Paul Lambert, a solicitor in Merrion Legal Solicitors, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, and could and would never have agreed to any arrangement which could result in being liable for costs of €1.9m when their only asset is their family home worth about €250,000.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan noted the bill served by Mr Lambert included €1.4m for a solicitor’s professional fee, while the rest was for outlay and other expenses. Senior and junior counsel who acted for the student during a 16-day High Court injunction application appeared not to have submitted their fees in the matter, the judge observed. Ronan Lupton BL, for Mr Lambert, said it was made clear in letters to Mr McKeogh and his parents, when Mr Lambert was instructed in January 2012, an hourly rate would be charged by the solicitor; additional staff and consultants might be needed; there were complex factual and evidential issues involved and expert reports may be necessary. The letters also stated it was understood detailed instructions were being received from all three McKeoghs although any proceedings may only have one name on those.

Asked by the judge if the parents were put on notice of a potential costs liability of €1.9m, counsel said the letters indicated the potential complexity of the case. Part of the problem was that Mr McKeogh and his parents had refused to engage with Mr Lambert on the costs issue, he said.

Maura King BL, for the parents, argued the letters did not amount to a contract.

Mr Justice Gilligan has reserved judgment on Mr Lambert’s application for an order the accrued solicitor/client costs be taxed by a High Court Taxing Master, who decides on the final bill to be paid.

The High Court previously ruled Mr McKeogh was grossly defamed in the video.

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