A SOLICITOR who formerly acted for a student falsely identified in an internet video clip is seeking €1.9m in legal costs from him and his parents, the High Court has heard.
Eoin McKeogh (23) was falsely identified in the YouTube clip as a taxi fare evader in Dublin when he was in Japan at the time.
His parents, Eamon and Fidelma McKeogh, of Donadea, Co Kildare, say they were never clients of Paul Lambert, a solicitor in Merrion Legal Solicitors, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin.
They say they would never, have agreed to any arrangement which could result in being liable for costs of €1.9m when their only asset is their family home worth about €250,000.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan noted the bill served by Mr Lambert included €1.4m for a solicitor's fee while the rest was for outlay and other expenses.
Senior and junior counsel who acted for the student during a 16-day High Court injunction application appeared to have waived their fees in the matter, the judge observed.
Ronan Lupton BL, for Mr Lambert, said it was made clear in letters to Mr McKeogh and his parents, when Mr Lambert was instructed in January 2012, an hourly rate would be charged by the solicitor.
It was also made clear that additional staff and consultants might be needed, there were complex factual and evidential issues involved and expert reports may be necessary.
Asked by the judge were the parents put on notice of a potential liability of €1.9m, counsel said the letters indicated the potential complexity of the case. Part of the problem was Mr McKeogh and his parents had refused to engage with Mr Lambert on the costs issue and Mr McKeogh only yesterday agreed to sign a form allowing the costs matter to go to the Taxing Master who decides on final legal bills to be paid, he said.
Maura King BL, for the parents, argued the letters did not amount to a contract.
The relationship between a client and solicitor is contractual and must have terms, the parents made clear from the outset they were not clients of Mr Lambert's and disputed his claim they were jointly and severally liable for his costs until June 2013 when they changed solicitors, she said.
Some €47,000 paid by the parents and Mr McKeogh's aunt Kay to Mr Lambert were considered as loans to him pending his recovery of costs at the end of the case, she added.
Mr Justice Gilligan has reserved judgment on Mr Lambert's application for an order the accrued solicitor/client costs be taxed by a High Court Taxing Master. The High Court previously ruled Mr McKeogh was grossly defamed in the video because he was incontrovertibly not the person in it.
Mr McKeogh got a temporary order preventing republishing of the material and the court later found he was entitled to orders against YouTube, Google, Facebook and a number of websites aimed at securing the permanent removal of the video. A stay was granted pending appeal before the Supreme Court next month.