Irish suicide solicitor leaves £10m compensation claims

FORMER clients of a wealthy Dublin solicitor, who killed himself as his accounts were being investigated, have lodged compensation claims with the Irish Law Society totalling £l0 million.

It is the largest amount claimed in relation to one legal practice since the Solicitors' Compensation Fund was established. Now the society has begun an action against the solicitor's accountants for alleged negligence.

Jonathan Brooks shot himself through the head at the luxury home he shared with his wife and their three children in County Wicklow almost three years ago.

Just weeks earlier investigators from the Irish Law Society had begun to examine the records of his one-man practice in an effort to unravel a complex web of property and financial dealings involving millions of pounds.

Brooks' suicide brought an avalanche of claims from former clients. So far the society has paid out just over £2 million. The Irish High Court heard last month that the society is to sue Dublin accountants, Rawlinson and Hunter, for alleged negligence in the way it carried out its reporting function in relation to Brooks.

A practising solicitor must provide the society with a certificate signed by an accountant following an examination of the accounts. Rawlinson and Hunter compiled four reports on Brooks' practice between 1988 and 1991, the Irish High Court heard.

The judge, Mr Justice Thomas Morris, ordered the accountants to hand over all documents relating to Brooks' accounts to the society.

He said investigations following Brooks' death revealed that he operated financier type activities in his practice and maintained overseas accounts.

The society alleged that his books and files contained entries which, had they been traced by his accountants, would have revealed falsification of accounts and foreign currency holdings in overseas banks.

The society claimed Rawlinson and Hunter's failure to uncover these matters represented negligence in the way the company carried out its function as reporting accountants. Despite objections from the company, the judge upheld the society's claim to all documents in its possession relevant to Brooks' financial affairs.

The society plans to use the material in its action for damages against the accountants.