Judge Neilan questions solicitors over exemption orders

In 10 years not one Mullingar solicitor has picked up a special exemption order granted by the court.

Judge John Neilan made the comment at the recent sitting of Mullingar District Court where publican Colin Dolan was requesting six special exemptions.

Sgt Moran told the court how when she had called to Mojo’s on November 14 at 1.50am to ask for proof that he had an exemption, he was unable to provide one but said his solicitor had applied for it.

The sergeant said there was no record of an application in the court office.

Ben Dolan, who gave evidence because Colin Dolan was out of the country, said that if there was no exemption in place “it must have been an oversight”.

When Ms Aine McCabe told the judge it was not the practice of her company to take up the exemption orders, he asked what publicans were supposed to produce when a sergeant asks for their licence to trade.

The judge said that in his firm knowledge he had never been asked by any firm of solicitors to sign an exemption order.

Solicitors are obliged to take up the order and send it on “but that has never been done by any legal practitioner in Mullingar since I came here,” he said.

“Formal orders should be presented to the office for signing,” he said and criticised the “haphazard fashion” in which solicitors deal with exemptions.

He said he respected Ben Dolan’s submission but added that exemption orders must be displayed in a visible place where they can be inspected by any member of An Garda Síochána because they are “technically not in existence until displayed”.

He granted the exemption, saying he would “not suggest what discount you should get on your legal bill – that’s another day’s work”.

He also said that it appeared on the evidence of Sgt Moran that a criminal court should deal with the issue of failure to have an exemption order but that that it was not for him to suggest Mr Dolan should be prosecuted.

He didn’t believe that Mr Dolan should be penalised by having his applications before the court refused.

He also criticised solicitors who ask their colleagues to apply for adjournments on their behalf saying “if they do not come to my court to deal with [their cases],” he would refer them back to the District Court.

He issued a bench warrant for a Longford man whose solicitor asked a colleague to stand in for her and seek an adjournment because she was “in difficulty” and unable to attend.

“I cannot accommodate solicitors’ diaries when they are not before the court,” he said.

When another asked for an adjournment because he had taken over a case from another colleague, he asked what the solicitor had been doing since the case was called in June.

“I am not going to allow the situation to unravel,” he said.


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