Why the Magdalene women need to be protected from the legal profession

The most common theme running through all discussion regarding what compensation should be paid to the Magdalene women is:

For pity’s sake, make sure the women are protected from the vultures that infest the legal profession.

This justified fear that greedy solicitors will exploit the women is a measure of how low the legal system and its representatives have allowed themselves sink in their ruthless pursuit of money.

In particular, people are remembering how dozens, if not hundreds, of greedy solicitors swooped on abuse victims appearing before the Redress Board and robbed them, literally, as they emerged with their compensation money.

This wholesale theft by members of the legal profession was the third brutal abuse of the victims following their experiences at the hands of the Catholic Church and the State.

I wrote extensively about this scandal in 2005. I provide below just a sample of how some of the victims were robbed.

The following facts should be kept in mind as the sample is read.

Before the Redress Board began its work the State had already agreed to pay all legal expenses incurred.

It is illegal for a solicitor to deduct money from a client’s compensation award.

THE Solicitors Amendment Act which became law in 1994 Section 68 (3).

A solicitor shall not deduct or appropriate any amount in respect of all or any part of his charges from the amount of any damages or other moneys that become payable to a client of that solicitor arising out of any contentious business carried out on behalf of that client by that solicitor.

By law, solicitors are required to provide clients with an itemised bill or at least a fair estimate of fees.

Rita: €13,000 demanded as percentage of award minutes before facing redress board, eventual ‘settlement’ €7,000. Told there was a shortfall. Money deducted directly by solicitor before victim saw the cheque. No itemised bill provided.

Norman: €11,000 demanded minutes after getting his award. Told there was a shortfall. No itemised bill provided.

Marie: €3,000 demanded. Money deducted from cheque. No itemised bill provided.

Nora: 4% of award demanded. No itemised bill provided.

Jack: €5,000 demanded. Money deducted after solicitor lodged cheque in bank. No itemised bill provided.

Maura: €5,000 demanded and deducted. Told there was a shortfall. Solicitor refused to give itemised bill. Maura’s cheque had her solicitors name on it. She was provided with a photocopy of her original cheque.

Margaret: €3,000 demanded and deducted minutes after getting award. Told there was a shortfall. No itemised bill provided.

Mary: €12,000 demanded and deducted on day of award. Solicitor claims he had her permission to take the money. Work involved 15 letters and one phone call.

Mark: 10% of award demanded just after getting his award. Mark challenged the demand, solicitor ran away.

Peter: €7,000 demanded and deducted. Told there was a shortfall. No itemised bill.

Chris: €5,000 demanded immediately after award. Chris challenged the demand, solicitor ran away.

Joan: €7,600 demanded. Told there was a shortfall. No itemised bill provided. She was told that envelopes cost €300. She received two letters in all.

I ended this particular piece by writing:

Because these thieves operate in a state that is itself corrupt means that not one of them will face real justice.

Needless to say, none of them did.

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