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plclegal, Barrister
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Barrister at law
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I have a question in two parts about an Irish solicitors

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I have a question in two parts about an Irish solicitors conduct within family law that involves a UK divorce. If applicable please also advice which organisation I should approach if I have grounds for a complaint
Background- I served an issued(5thsep)UK divorce petition from Belfast and my ex wife and my children live in the Republic of Ireland. I meet the jurisdiction requirements to start my divorce in the UK through domicled and habitual residency status in Northern Ireland. My potential complaint is two fold
Firstly- The Irish solicitor in response to the serving of my divorce petition explained to the Belfast court that "this matter had already been before a court and that further proceedings were pending". My wife previously summoned me to obtain a safety order in an Irish court. This was struck out immediately after testimony was heard and was completely concluded. There were never any proceedings relating to divorce, separation or children
Q1 As this was a blatant attempt to mislead another court into thinking it couldn't grant jurisdiction, how serious would this be considered if I complained?
Secondly - The Irish solicitor wrote to me privately in a cover letter to a maintenance summons to an Irish court(which was issued after I had already seised the first court)with a lengthy letter where she was effectively trying to conduct a divorce hearing by post. Within the letter she privately declared that I had previously issued invalid UK divorce proceedings even though they are perfectly valid and ongoing. No ruling has been made with regard my petition and the respondent on the advice of the Irish solicitor is simply putting her head in the sand and hoping it goes away. The Irish solicitor's cover letter was very large in scope and certainly did not limit itself to the attached summons. My parents and the grandparents of our children were minding the children over the summer holidays, and when my ex wife discovered I had a new partner and that our children had met this woman, my ex wife made a return*****trip through the night to remove the children (ages 8 and 10) at 11pm from their granparents house. My problem is the solicitors comments where she said that they were removed for their protection which means the solicitor's letter has now caused major and unnecessary upset to the extended family who have taken that statement as a hurtful criticism of them. The solicitor was very personal about my life and referred to me as having fleeting relationships. The children have only met one person and this person is someone that I have now been in a six month relationship with. The personal comments in the solicitor's letter about my love life were unnecessary, not at all relevant to the summons, intrusive, hurtful and based on incorrect facts of which there was no way she could confirm, as they related to my private life.
I thought this type of aggressive and personal letter was not supposed to be used by solicitors to lay litigants in family law as it puts flames onto a difficult situation rather than helping to reach a settlement. I have intentionally not replied and am very interested for advice in this matter
Background - I am a Surveyor who has worked on both sides of the border and the Irish solicitor knows me very well and is very good friends with my ex-wife. The solicitor's daughter is best friends with my daughter and my family and the solicitor live in a very small rural Irish community. On one occassion I had to send the Irish solicitor a demand for payment letter when she owed me money (she has also been sanctioned twice by the Irish law society for accounting misconduct including one appearance at the Dublin High Court) and during the safety order she cross examined me and was constantly sanctioned by the judge for trying to conduct divorce proceedings rather than focus on the safety order. She looked visibly distressed when it was so easily struck out as baseless by the female judge, and the fact I won makes me think she is taking these matters personally and writing well beyond the scope of her role in what is still a sensitive family law matter
Q2 Given the solicitor has written to me as an opponent, and I am also a lay litigant, is it sanctionable for her to declare privately to me without evidence that my UK proceedings are invalid without any ruling by a judge on that matter? Is it also wrong to bring very personal matters to which she has no knowledge into the cover letter to a summons that doesn't even relate to a divorce?(The Belfast court told me that as she was an out of state solicitor she could have no role or input in my UK divorce and it is obvious that she is writing to me privately in an attempt to undo the fact the first court siesed was in the UK)
I don't have the time to be researching legal rules in order to see if a solicitor is in error and any help will be very gratefully received
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Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Hello, my name is Peter and I’ll do my best to assist you today.

Please bear in mind as this is an email service and not live chat I may not respond immediately.

Can you confirm whether the Belfast court has rejected the petition on the basis of the jurisdictional point, or if this is yet undecided?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The petition has not been rejected and as far as I know the jurisdiction claim of the Irish solicitor is not even being given any consideration. At the moment the Belfast court is simply regarding the matter as one where the respondent hasn’t responded properly and I was told by the court office that a respondent should be served a second time before the Master will take further action. The court isn't giving any thought to the Irish solicitor’s comments as they told me over the phone that they can’t even write to her as she isn’t qualified to act in Northern Ireland. Form M6 that goes with a petition includes a section that allows for details of other proceedings to be entered and this was not returned for the obvious reason that there weren’t any other proceedings elsewhere! My problem now is that my ex wife is simply believing the advice she has received and has put her head in the sand. While the Belfast court are not acting on the Irish solicitor’s letter they also told me I needed to get me own solicitor to pursue this, which to my mind means the Belfast court office services to lay litigants, is understandably limited. They won’t be drawn on any technical point. To my mind the Irish solicitor has simply created uncertainty and delay where it wasn’t needed and misrepresented the facts for the benefit of her own client. My question is whether or not her untrue statement would be considered intentionally misleading . I obviously have a biased view, however saying an untruth to disrupt a court process must surely be a black and white issue in terms of whether or not that behaviour is acceptable or not.
Sorry for the long replies,
Thanks Dave

No problem.

You will have grounds to make a complaint about the solicitor, but that is a separate issue to moving the divorce forwards, and it won't be dealt with by the court in NI. See here for how to start the complaint:

You do then need to arrange for service of the divorce papers via a process server, so you can evidence that she has been served.

I hope this clarifies the point - that they are separate issues.

If so, please take a second to rate my response with 5 stars as this will credit me for my time.

Thanks and do let me know if you have further questions, follow ups are part of the service, even if you have already taken the time to rate for me.

Kind regards,


plclegal, Barrister
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 5224
Experience: Barrister at law
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