Solicitor who charged €246 to store mother’s will among 600 complaints to legal services regulator

Regulator received almost 600 complaints against lawyers in six months to March

A solicitor charged a woman €246 for storing her deceased mother’s will after she asked them to hand it over because she wanted to have the estate administered by another solicitor, according to the latest report from the legal services regulator.

The woman’s complaint was among some 600 received by the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) against lawyers in the six months to March 3rd last, according to its latest report published on Thursday. Overall, lawyers were required by the LSRA to pay a total of €43,000 to complainants.

The report notes the unnamed solicitor refunded the €246 will storage charge after the LSRA upheld the woman’s complaint alleging misconduct.

No sanction was imposed but a warning was issued to the solicitor, who had sought to justify the charge on the basis that the original €80 charge for making the will was heavily discounted in the expectation the firm would be administering the estate. The solicitor said this was explained to the deceased, although there was no evidence provided to support the claim.


The Authority determined that, “under no circumstances”, could handing over the will be conditional on payment of a storage fee. People are not obliged to instruct the law firm that drafted a will to deal with the administration of the estate, and fees concerning wills should put in writing and approved by testators, it said.

In another case study, a solicitor was directed to pay €3,000 to a complainant over inadequate legal services concerning a planned land purchase. The complainant said they abandoned the purchase after 16 months because the solicitor, among other things, had not fully investigated land title difficulties.

The bulk of complaints to the regulator, 576, were against solicitors, reflecting their greater number and higher level of contact with clients, with 19 complaints against barristers.

Almost half, 291, of closed complaints were deemed inadmissible while 226 were either resolved or determined by the LSRA, with the rest withdrawn or deferred.

Of the 595 complaints, 374 (63 per cent) alleged misconduct; 195 (33 per cent) related to legal services of an inadequate standard and 26 (4 per cent) related to alleged excessive costs or overcharging. The LSRA received 1,509 phone calls/emails seeking information and/or complaint forms.

Of 130 determinations by the LSRA, 35 related to costs/services complaints and 95 to complaints alleging misconduct. 13 complaints of alleged misconduct were referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT), which is separate to the LSRA, for further investigation. Those included complaints of failure to account for monies and the deduction of monies from a client’s award to pay service providers who were not paid.

Ninety-six complaints were resolved with assistance from the LSRA, most before it was decided whether the complaint was admissible.

LSRA chief executive Dr Brian Doherty welcomed the early resolution of complaints where possible, saying it can lead to “practical common-sense outcomes for both parties” and reduce costs.

He noted a small “but growing” number of instances where the LSRA made determinations on complaints but its statutory directions to legal practitioners were not complied with. The LSRA, he warned, will apply for High Court orders to enforce its directions and will seek orders covering any costs incurred.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times