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Law Society seeks six years of bank records from Dublin law firm with €1.7m deficit

Regulatory body awaiting ‘omnibus affidavit’ with details of bank records and assets available to clear deficit in client account at Thomas Montgomery & Son Solicitors

The Law Society of Ireland is seeking six years of bank accounts and asset records belonging to a south Dublin law firm whose assets have been frozen amid concerns over a €1.7 million deficit in its client account.

The regulatory body for solicitors is awaiting full information concerning what assets are available to clear the substantial deficit on the client account at Thomas Montgomery & Son Solicitors in Dún Laoghaire. The known deficit was €1.7 million last February.

Draft information given to the society suggests the firm’s offices may be the only asset of solicitor William Montgomery, practising as Thomas Montgomery & Son Solicitors, but full sworn information is awaited, according to an affidavit before the court on Tuesday.

Mr Justice David Barniville, president of the High Court, was told the society had by agreement last month collected almost all files, wills, deeds and documents from the law practice as part of the process of winding down the firm. Iain Montgomery, a son of Mr Montgomery, is keeping 228 files having received authorities from former clients of the practice to have those files transferred to his proposed new firm.


William Montgomery, aged 80, was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1967 and practised in partnership with his late son, David Montgomery, between 2005 and October 2022. David Montgomery was managing partner until he died in tragic circumstances in October 2022.

Following an earlier investigation of the firm in 2014 by the society, it secured High Court orders in 2015 including one prohibiting David Montgomery being a signatory on the firm’s client account.

Last October, after another investigation, the society reported a minimum deficit of €1.1 million in the client account. After further investigation and engagement with the relevant parties, the society was informed last February the known deficit had risen to almost €1.7 million.

In a letter to the society last October, written the day after David Montgomery’s death, a solicitor said he was instructed by David Montgomery the day before his death that the deficit was €1.3 million, that David Montgomery had alone created the deficit and neither his partner William Montgomery, nor his brother Iain, was aware of it. William Montgomery, the letter stated, had effectively been a partner in the firm in name only and had pre-signed forms to enable client account transactions to proceed in his absence.

Following considerable engagement, the society last February moved an application for orders, including account freezing orders. Last month, the judge made those and other orders. In lieu of a court order, the court accepted an undertaking from William Montgomery to cease practising as a solicitor.

On Tuesday, the judge was told of “positive progress” concerning the matters at issue, including the gathering of files. Counsel for the society said some “minor issues” were outstanding but, in view of the progress made, the court was not required to monitor matters on an ongoing basis.

Mr Justice Barniville said he was pleased with the progress, co-operation and compliance, and agreed to adjourn the proceedings generally, with liberty to re-enter.

In an affidavit, David Irwin, a solicitor in the society’s regulation department, said an omnibus affidavit concerning bank accounts and assets of the respondent solicitor in the last six years was awaited.

A draft affidavit containing details of bank accounts had stated the only asset still in William Montgomery’s possession or control in the last six years is the firm’s office premises at 5 Anglesea Buildings, Upper George’s Street, Dún Laoghaire, which Mr Montgomery owns jointly with his wife Annie, he outlined.

The society was informed the couple have only a life interest in their residence at Silchester Court, Glenageary, Co Dublin; that Mr Montgomery had confirmed he owned no property outside Ireland and, apart from some small interbank transfers between accounts of the firm to him and/or his wife, had made no material disposition of assets during that period.

Mr Irwin said, subject to the content of the omnibus affidavit, the society would be satisfied orders concerning those matters had been complied with.

By court order, any sale of the practice’s premises cannot proceed without the express agreement of the society which will require clarification concerning the sale and remittal of the net sale proceeds to the firm’s client account, “bearing in mind the mortgage on the property was discharged from clients’ funds”, Mr Irwin said. Any voluntary sale will be contingent on the consent of Mr Montgomery’s wife, who is separately represented.

David Montgomery, just before his death, had instructed a solicitor his parents had no knowledge of what he had done in relation to that transaction, it was stated in court documents.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times