Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Solicitor who forged health insurance claim forms struck off
A solicitor who served a prison term for forging health insurance claim forms has been struck off by the High Court.
Patrick Enright (54), Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, was being struck off the roll of solicitors, not as a punitive measure, but for the purpose of maintaining the reputation of the solicitors’ profession, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said.
Mr Enright committed the offences between 1988 and 1994 when he worked as an assistant manager for US-based health insurance Nylerin. He qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and in 1994 left the insurance firm to set up his own legal practice.
He believed he was entitled to a redundancy payment from Nylerin but, when that did not materialise, he forged insurance claims on 10 occasions which were paid to a post office box.
The company became suspicious and gardaí intercepted Mr Enright’s brother, Denis, collecting the payout cheques involving around €12,000 which was eventually paid back.
Criminal proceedings against Mr Enright and his brother began in 1996 but he brought a number of legal challenges to the High and Supreme Court which had, by 2008, all failed.
Mr Enright then also brought a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, including on grounds related to a fair trial, which resulted in a friendly settlement between him and the State, the court heard.
As a result, his trial at Tralee Circuit Court did not proceed until June 2013. He initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea to guilty on all ten offences. He was jailed for 12 months and served his sentence.
The Law Society then sought an order to have him struck off.
Mr Enright, who is married with children, asked that he not be struck off. Prior to being jailed, he had been working as a solicitor for 21 years, representing hundreds of clients, for whom there had never been a problem, he said.
Mr Justice Kelly said he had regard to the fact Mr Enright practised as a solicitor to the complete satisfaction of the Law Society for some 20 years after the commission of the offences.
It had been argued striking Mr Enright off would consign him “to unemployability in his chosen profession in perpetuity”, the judge said.
This was not necessarily so and it was possible for a struck-off solicitor to apply for restoration to the roll of solicitors, he said.
It would be unwise to indicate the circumstances in which such an order might be made, but “normally a passage of time would occur subsequent to the strike-off order and other conditions would have to be met”, the judge added.