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3 of 8 complaints made to Law Society of Ireland in relation to Mr Robert Marren Solicitor
Complaint No 3
My Third complaint is based on Mr. Robert Marrens, Solicitor, Mullingar response to my third question to him on 13-04-2015
My third question to Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor on 13-04-2015 was
Please explain how you arrived at your decision to award the moneys received from the sale of Pat Gavin’s livestock together with the Gross payments received from the Department of Agriculture without deducting any expense for the minding, looking after, feeding and caring for the animals for the nine years from 2005 to 2014.
Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor Response was
“As Administrator, it fell to me to make a decision how to treat the proceeds of sale of livestock. I decided to split this between the Estate and your goodself. However, I did not consider your claim for maintaining livestock to be justified, given that you were in possession of the estate lands for such a long period of time free of charge and the fact that you were the joint owner of the livestock anyway. I also based my decision on the Reports of the Estate Accountant and indeed the treatment of same on Farm Accounts.”
As regards ownership of the livestock, I have been totally consistent in claiming that I own half of the livestock and all of the sheep. My ownership of half of the livestock goes back to my youth when my parents encouraged me to take an interest in farming by giving me a number of animals within the overall herd which I with the consent of my brother, Pat was able to have and maintain on the lands. Over the years I added to the original stock by purchasing other stock out of my own monies and by doing deals with my brother, Pat, so that ultimately, by the time Pat died in October, 2005 I owned half the entire herd. Moreover I owned all the sheep as my brother Pat got out of sheep a few years before he died and sold all his interest in the sheep to me. Accordingly, in the referenced years for the purpose of acquiring the Single Farm payment Entitlements, half the livestock on the lands belonged to me and my brother, Pat shared the entitlements with me. There was no differences between Pat and myself in our dealings. In other words we shared the workload, we shared all the expenses, and we shared the profit and income from the land. I refer you to my statement dated 17th of December, 2007, comprehensively dealing with my ownership of half the livestock (cattle) and all of the sheep on the property. In addition, the statement taken on the 23rd of January, 2013 from J H , a cattle dealer who had regular dealings with Pat and myself in connection with the sale of our animals down through the years, corroborates the position. These statements are located at the end of this document (Mike Gavin’s statement dated 17/12/07 and J H’s statement which I sent to Mr. Robert Marren, Solicitor, Mullingar with letter dated 25/01/13).
I object to this decision because the livestock were not Mr. Robert Marrens or the estates to split in the first place. It was explained to Mr. Marren and Catherine O’ Connor the Farm accountant the history of the livestock on numerous occasions by myself, my sister Eilenn , J H the cattle dealer (25/01/2013 Corroborative statement from J H as to his dealings with the late Patrick Gavin and Michael Gavin in connection with the sale of their livestock over the years;) and J G our family solicitor, that myself and my brother had a joint farming operation in respect of which each of us shared the expenses and took the profits on the sale of our respective animals to include the division of the single farm payments accordingly as same were received. If Mr. Robert Marren, Solicitor, Mullingar did not accept this explanation why did he not object at the time and why in his letter on 14th of March 2013 did he agree to accept my claim to owning half the livestock and all the sheep, surely that would have been the time to point out that I would not be reimbursed for minding, looking after, feeding and caring for the animals for the nine years from 2005 to 2014. I feel I was “led down the garden path” on this. When I express my concerns to Mr. Robert Marren, Solicitor, Mullingar he responds that he based his decision on the Reports of the Estate and Farm Accounts. Catherine O’Connor the Farm Accountant on the other hand states it’s a legal matter and my estranged sister Kathleen O’ Keefe stated in the past that it would be sorted out at closing.
I and those I have spoken to in relation to this matter FAIL to see the logic to Mr. Robert Marren’s decision, how does he expect me to labour for free for 9 years at my own expense and pay vets fees and fodder to fatten cattle so that those that do nothing can reap the rewards of the GROSS profits. I believe with every bone in my body that I am entitled to be paid for the work done and services rendered and monies expended by me in looking after my brother’s livestock from the time my brother died up to the time the animals were sold, this you will appreciate involved the daily herding and looking after the animals to include feeding of the animals in Winter months to include purchase of food stuffs and discharging vets fees etc.
I also fail to see why it was necessary to hire the additional Estate Accountant. I am of the opinion that the Farm Accountant Catherine O’ Connor was enough and I recall myself and my sister Eileen explicitly pointing this out to Mr Robert Marren, Solicitor at our first and only meeting in his office when we objected to him going to the further expense of hiring an additional accountant. It appears to me that between them they got it books wrong.
When J G, Solicitor was originally administrating the Estate, an additional accountant was not required to oversee Catherine O’Conner’s work, John was quite capable of carrying out that duty himself.
You will note that the additional Accountant that Mr. Robert Marron, Solicitor, Mullingar insisted on hiring charges the Estate an additional fee of €8,751.45 which I consider to be extremely expensive and an unnecessary expense. You will also note that although he is hired to oversee the accounts his fee is in excess of Catherine’s fee.
Based on the objections I have made above to Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor response I wish to state the following
- Again I feel that an inadequate professional service has been provided by Mr. Robert Marren, Solicitor, Mullingar and it is not of a quality that could reasonably be expected of a solicitor. By denying me a share in the profits, it means that I was working for nothing over the 9 years in question from October, 2005 through to 2013. There is no logic to this decision.
- Without the bill of costs to include a detailed breakdown of how the figure of €40,892.53 representing fees paid to Robert Marren & Co. were arrived at, which I feel I am entitle to a copy of; I can only assume that it will contain charges for all the unnecessary additional letters, documents and accountant fees that resulted from Mr Marren’s negligence which has led to the squandering of the estates assets.
- Here again I would question whether Mr Marren is guilty of Misconduct by tending to bring the solicitors profession into disrepute.
Complaint No 5
My fifth complaint is based on Mr. Robert Marren’s response to my fifth question to him on 11-04-2015
My fifth question to Mr Robert Marren, Solicitor Mullingar on 11-04-2015 was
Also please explain why you did not award Mike Gavin half of the Grant Money from the Department of Agriculture after making a decision in your letter on 14th of March 2013 to accept the claim of Michael to owning half the livestock and all the sheep.
Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor response on 22nd April was
“In my view, the grant monies belong to the Estate. The Farm Accounts as prepared have always treated the Grant monies as belonging to the Estate and I adopted the same approach in making my decision.”
My Objection to his response:-
After the death of my brother Patrick, my brother Michael Gavin was appointed herd keeper for the animals by the Department of Agriculture. His understanding was that he would receive the grant monies paid from the department to subsidise the looking after the animals. As I recall he did receive some monies from J G, Solicitor paid down from the department, and then later on my 2 estranged sisters Anne Sanford and Kathleen O’Keefe objected to this.
Catherine O’Conner’s Account Summary 24/02/2012 shows that throughout the entire farming period between 2005 and 2012 the cattle sales came to a figure of €46,589 and the expenses came to a figure of €45,918. Accordingly, the expenses in running the farm were almost equal to the proceeds of sale of livestock. Therefore the profit from the farming operation represented the monies received each year from the Department of Agriculture under the single Payment Scheme, the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and any other Schemes of the Department of Agriculture, less any income tax payable to the state arising out of the farming operation. See Catherine O’Connor’s Account Summary that was attached to Messrs. Patrick Hogan & Company’s Capital Account dated 24th of February, 2012.
Mr. Robert Marren, Solicitor Mullingar argues in his response that the grant monies belong to the Estate, so therefore in my opinion, it seems only reasonable that the accounts should charge the estate for looking after the animals.
I don’t understand how Mr Robert Marren, Solicitor, Mullingar can permit the estate to have it both ways, and I feel my brother Michael Gavin should be awarded either the grant monies paid by the Department of Agriculture for the nine years he looked after all the animals, or in the alternative he should be paid reasonable farm labors wages and refunds for the expenses incurred in running the farm as appointed herd keeper by the Department of Agriculture.
The next of kin cannot have it both ways. They cannot on the one hand expect to receive the monies from the sale of my late brother Pat Gavin’s livestock together with the gross payments received from the Department of Agriculture, without incurring any expense for the minding, looking after and caring for the animals down through the years.
Based on the objections I have made above to Mr. Robert Marren’s response I wish to state the following:
- Again I feel that an inadequate professional service has been provided by Mr Marren and it is not of a quality that could reasonably be expected of a solicitor. I take issue with Robert Marren, Solicitor over his accounting in this matter and the lack of clarity in same, apart altogether from his unwillingness to make any allowance to my brother Michael Gavin for his shares in the profits of the lands, or in the alternative, making any allowance to him for work done and services rendered in minding the deceased’s livestock. He also did not accept that the balance of the animals that remained on the lands on the date of closing belonged to him.
- As a result of Mr Marren’s reluctance to see reason in the above matter I have been forced to incur additional unnecessary expenses in drafting documents and letters time and time again to prove the claim. By denying my brother a half share in the profits it means that HE WAS WORKING FOR NOTHING over the years in question from October, 2005 through to 2013. This is totally unjust and totally unacceptable to me. My brother Michael Gavin would have no difficulty in abandoning his genuine claim to ownership in half the remaining livestock that remained on the lands on the date of closing, if, in the alternative, he was paid for the work done and services rendered in minding the entire herd.
- Here again I would question whether Mr Marren is guilty of Misconduct by tending to bring the solicitors profession into disrepute.
Please Support Michael Gavin Elderly 83 Year Old Irish Farmer by Signing Petition
Michael Gavins Petition
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Complaint No 6
My sixth complaint is based on Mr. Robert Marrens response to my sixth question to him on 13-04-2015
My sixth question to you on 13-04-2015 was
I would like a breakdown of how the figure of €40,892.53 representing fees paid to Robert Marren & Co. were arrived at. Similarly I would like a breakdown of fees paid to Catherine O’Connor, Tony McLynn (Solicitor for the other side), Willie Penrose, (why was it necessary to get his advices). Please advise me of any outstanding bills, has John Glynn, Hogan & Co. been paid to date, and if not why not.
“I have already forwarded to you my detailed Bill of Costs in relation to fees. Catherine O’Connor prepared Farm Accounts. Mr Tony McGlynn was the Solicitor in High Court proceedings on behalf of some of the parties and was awarded his costs by Order of the High Court as was Hogan & Company. William Penrose B.L. advices were sought in relation to the sale of lands.”
My Objection to his Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor response:-
To date I have NOT received Mr. Marren detailed Bill of Costs in relation to fees. I believe to say “I have already forwarded to you my detailed Bill of Costs in relation to fees” is a blatant lie on Mr Mirren’s part. I believe the devil is in the detail and that is why Mr Marron has conveniently neglected to send me a breakdown of how the figure of €40,892.53 representing fees paid to Robert Marren & Co. were arrived at.? No this is a convenient LIE in my humble opinion.
A solicitor familiar with the case recently remarked to a member of my family that it was as if Mr Marren just plucked the figure of €40,892.53 out of thin air. Regardless I eagerly await Mr Marrens a detailed breakdown of how the figure of €40,892.53 representing fees paid to Robert Marren & Co. were arrived at.
Letter to Law Society re Robert Marren Solicitor Complaints
Deputy Head of Complaints
and Client Relations Section
Dear Mr. Watson,
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 29th June, 2015. I am extremely disappointed that based on the 8 individual complaints I made in relation to how Mr. Marren, Solicitor, dealt with the administration of my late brother Patrick Gavin’s Estates; you do not believe that these complaints of inadequate professional services, alleged over charging and misconduct, warrant investigation by the Law Society of Ireland.
You are most correct when you state that Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor was clearly dealing with a very complex and contentious estate, as were my brother Michael Gavin and I. However that does not give him the right to proceed as he did.
What exactly do you mean when you state that “Mr. Marren has set out in some detail how the estate would be distributed, based upon his client’s very clear instructions?”
It would appear that our family Solicitors J G’s, suspicions were correct when he stated in his letter to Tony Henry, Tormeys Solicitors on 14th January, 2015, “Finally, for the purpose of endeavoring to avoid further proceedings in the matter, I would suggest that you immediately telephone Robert Marren to advise him that you have received instructions to act and enquire just where exactly does he stand in this matter and enquire whether or not his hands are tied by the instructions received from Messrs. Sanford & O’Keeffe and/or their Solicitors, Messr. T & N McLynn.”
If you consider Messrs. Sanford & O’Keeffe clients of Mr. Marren, where does that leave my brother Michael Gavin and I. I was under the impression that we were all beneficiaries of the Estate and our clear instructions and objections should be dealt with in a fair and unbiased way by the administrator Mr. Marren.
You go on to acknowledge my brothers letter of the 5th December, 2014 in which my brother Michael Gavin states “If a fair allowance is not made on an agreed basis, I will not give my consent to any distribution account prepared by you. Similarly, my sisters will also have to agree before a distribution account can be finalised and a distribution effected. Accordingly you as Administrator will be unable to distribute the estate unless you can procure agreement between us and, if this agreement is not forthcoming, I am advised the only way you, as Administrator, can be protected is to go back into Court and get a Court Order directing how the estate can be distributed.”
However Mr. Marren passed the book to us and demanded court proceeding to prevent the distribution, and although he extended the time for the distribution to allow for the proceedings to be issued and served, as you stated yourself in letter Ref 22943/L/19/7 “It is quite clear from the chronology, that Mr. Henry was only instructed over a very limited period, and there is reference to this being over the Christmas Period December/January 2014/2015.” While this does not excuse Mr. Henry’s reluctance to undertake J G’s verbal and written instructions, I hope you can appreciate that the very limited period was based on Mr. Marren’s decision to finalise the distribution of the estate with little regard to our objections.
You are quiet right we had difficulties with both solicitors and barristers to the extent that there appears to be a significant reluctance from local Solicitors to challenge Mr. Marren. After Mr. Henry’s advice that it could take up to 3 years and costs in the range of €60,000 to €100,000 to sue Mr. Marren we are fearful that we may be taken advantage of again and loose the reduced amount we were awarded to date. We believe that Mr. Marren should not have finalised the distribution without addressing our objections, and it appears he did same to avoid paying our €82,500 1/6 share of the land from action in isolation to the rest of the estate.
I was of the belief that my complaints to the Law Society of Ireland would get Mr. Marren to see the error in his judgement and the seriousness of the matter.
I maintain that a number of my complaints do relate to alleged overcharging and inadequate professional service and I have difficulty understanding why the Society refuses to investigate them.
I do appreciate that the Society’s complaints and clients relations Committee has no role in determining the proper distribution of an Estate, or effectively acting as a mediator in a dispute between beneficiaries, and I apologise if I gave that impression that’s what I was seeking.
While these are matters that can only be dealt with by the court if they cannot be resolved by agreement I believe it should be the Administrator who goes back into Court to get a Court Order directing how the estate can be distributed not the elderly beneficiaries.
Before referring this matter to the independent Adjudicator and/or tribunal I would greatly appreciate it if you could reconsider the matter paying particular attention to the fact that Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor allowed confusion to arise in relation to the exact disbursement of funds held by him;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor grossly delayed, without reasonable explanation, the administration of the estate, the deceased person having died in 2005 some ten years ago;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor showed a complete disregard for the interests of the beneficiaries, whom Mr. Marren, Solicitor, knew to be elderly, and by his conduct is depriving two of the beneficiaries, of the enjoyment of their share in the estate;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor provided an inadequate professional service and it is not of a quality that could reasonably be expected of a solicitor. There is no good reason why Mr Marren did not “bite the bullet” and pay over the full €82,500 when he received the funds way back on 27th of May 2013.
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor was reluctant to resolve the issue in isolation to the rest of the Estate;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor did not provided the detailed bill of costs to include a detailed breakdown of how the figure of €40,892.53 representing fees paid to Robert Marren & Co. were arrived at, I believe that legal and auctioneering fees are excessive, and my brother Michael Gavin and I should not be charged for same as the beneficiaries on the otherside agreed to waive them. 05/07/13 Marron to Gavin and Linney enclosing copy letter dated 3rd of July, 2013 from T & N McLynn;
- Breached the following regulation of the solicitors’ account regulations, 2001: • Regulation 4(2): by failing without delay to pay monies held or controlled by them in respect of outlays not yet disbursed into client account and failing to treat such monies in all respects as client money;
- Breached the following regulation of the solicitors’ account regulations, 2001: Regulation 5: by holding monies to which they were beneficially entitled in a client account for longer than three months in respect of outlays already disbursed, or which should have been the subject matter of a bill of costs furnished to the client concerned;
- Brought the solicitors profession into disrepute;
- Denied my brother Michael Gavin a share in the farming profits, to the extent that my brother was working for nothing over the 9 years in question from October, 2005 through to 2013;
- Provided an inadequate professional service and it is not of a quality that could reasonably be expected of a solicitor with regards to the explanation he provides to explain how he arrived at his decision to award the moneys received from the sale of Pat Gavin’s livestock together with the Gross payments received from the Department of Agriculture without deducting any expense for the minding, looking after, feeding and caring for the animals for the nine years from 2005 to 2014;
- Delayed making the decision regarding my brother Michael Gavin’s share in the farming profits and rightful share of the grant monies received from the Department of Agriculture until the very end with the draft distribution account that contained countless errors on 18th September, 2014. Michael Gavin was lied to and led to believe that he would be refunded at closing by some of the beneficiaries. Why did Mr. Marren make a decision around March 2013 to accept Michael Gavin’s claim to owning half the livestock and all the sheep? But yet for no logical reason refuses to award him the net amount €116,789.11 due to him out of the Single Payment Entitlements representing my ½ share in the profits from farming the lands, which was also sent to Mr. Marren, Solicitor, on the 5th of December, 2015 for his consideration. There is no good reason why he took advantage of my brother Michael Gavin’s good nature and delayed his decision in this matter until the end;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor squandered the Estate assets by hiring an additional accountant against my wishes at a cost of €8,751.45;
- Accounting mistakes and lack of clarity;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor forced me to incur additional unnecessary expenses in drafting documents and letters time and time again to prove my claim;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor did not furnished a detailed statement of all the legal costs to his client. Under Section 68 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act, 1994 provides for charges to clients. Under these provisions a solicitor should furnish a detailed statement of all the legal costs to his client;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor not furnished a copy of Solicitor T & N McLynn’s Bill of Costs for the handsome fee of €38,941.00;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor provided incorrect invoice for Catherine O’Conner Accountant. Catherine O’Conner’s invoice states Total Amount Due €584.25 while Cash Account dated 18th July, 2014 “Fees paid to Catherine O’ Connor €6,857.25;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor did not provided an invoice for William Penrose B.L. or explanation of why his opinion was sought for €1,230.00;
- Mr. Robert Marren Solicitor did not provided an invoice for John Dolan Auctioneer and breakdown of the fee he was paid. As I recalls the auctioneer John Dolan did advertise the auction extensively and I recalls full and half page ads appeared in the local newspapers. I would argue that based on the amount of interest and bids made at the auction that these ads served no purpose other than to promote John Dolans Auctioneering service as a whole. I believe that a free mention in the local parish newsletter would have sufficed.
Michael Gavins Petition
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