A lawyer who falsely claimed to have witnessed the signing of company documents was found guilty of professional misconduct.
John Moylan denied involvement in forging a former client’s signature on 18 documents related to the operation of a company that later went into liquidation.
But a Solicitors Disciplinary Court found him guilty of misconduct after he admitted signing his name as a witness on documents allegedly signed by Deirdre O’Flynn when she was not in his presence.
The tribunal’s findings came after a complaint by Ms O’Flynn, 57, a retired teacher who was a minority shareholder in Bod Investments (Irl) Limited, a property and pub company run by her ex-husband Billy O’ . Flynn (60), in Mallow, County Cork.
Ms O’Flynn complained that her signature was forged on company documents between 1997 and 2011 and that Moylan or a junior colleague at Richard Moylan and Company Solicitors in Mallow falsely swore an oath three times that they were witnesses to documents issued by her were signed.
The tribunal’s chairman, Stephen Maher, said that Moylan’s failure to correctly witness documents left open the risk of forgery.
The court also found that he signed his name on the jurat of memorial documents when both directors said they were not present and did not sign the company seal in his presence, contrary to deed registration legislation.
It also found him guilty of misconduct for allowing a junior associate to swear that she was a witness to Mrs. O’Flynn’s signature on a deed when it was forged and Mrs. O’Flynn was not present.
During the tribunal hearing, Moylan alleged that the documents were brought to him by Mr O’Flynn with Ms O’Flynn’s signature apparently already signed.
However, he now accepted that the signatures were forgeries.
Ms O’Flynn’s lawyer, Tadhg Dorgan, said she had been slandered for eight years and had come before the tribunal “to clear her name”.
He said she was glad her honesty had been proven. Mrs O’Flynn was not seeking an “eye for an eye” and did not want Moylan’s employment to be hampered.
The court reprimanded Moylan, 68, and ordered him to pay €15,000 to the Bar Compensation Fund and €15,000 to cover Ms O’Flynn’s legal fees.
Mr Maher said it took into account Ms O’Flynn’s wishes, as well as admissions and an apology from Moylan.
The attorney was cleared of a separate complaint that he intentionally misled a new attorney for the company.
Moylan’s lawyer Patrick McCullough said his client was misled by Mr O’Flynn and acted naively.
He said that while his client regrets what happened, he did not act dishonestly or for personal gain.
Mr McCullough said the liquidation of the company was not the result of the forged signature transactions but the result of the company’s failure to pay taxes.
Mr O’Flynn neither testified nor attended the hearing.
The court had previously heard that there had been significant consequences for Ms O’Flynn following the company’s collapse.
These included putting the company on the tax evaders list, ruining her creditworthiness and requesting that her tenure as director be restricted.
The Supreme Court refused to disqualify her, finding she had acted honestly. Mr O’Flynn was jailed for five years.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/solicitor-guilty-of-misconduct-for-false-claim-of-witnessing-company-signatures-41528255.html Attorney guilty of misconduct for falsely claiming to have witnessed company signatures