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Solicitor should be struck off over 'fictitious' land sale contract, High Court rules

A High Court judge has ruled a solicitor should be struck off the roll of solicitors for professional misconduct over causing or allowing a “fictitious” contract on a 2004 land sale in Co Galway, come into existence to mislead a bank into advancing monies to a development firm.

The Law Society was entitled to a strike off order against Daniel J. Coleman on foot of misconduct concerning the Tuam land conveyancing transaction, Mr Justice Garrett Simons ruled.

A second finding of misconduct concerning alleged breach of an undertaking given by the solicitor in 2004 to St Jarlath’s credit union in Tuam was legally unsustainable and must be set aside, he found.

Mr Coleman was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1998 and practised as principal in the firm of Coleman & Company Solicitors, Main Street, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

He opposed the Society’s strike off application arising from findings of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in 2010 of professional misconduct concerning separate complaints by two former clients.

Mr Justice Simons earlier this year refused the solicitor an extension of time to bring a separate statutory appeal against the SDT findings.

The first complaint related to sale of part of a housing site in Tuam and the SDT found that Mr Coleman had forged the signature of another solicitor on a 2004 sale contract and acted for both the seller and the purchaser in contravention of solicitors regulations. The only explanation offered by counsel on behalf of Mr Coleman at the SDT was to "blame the Celtic Tiger for the lack of attention to detail" and the lowering of standards generally, counsel for the Society said.

Formal orders will be made on a later date.