After viewing Example 1 the reader may feel disinclined to attach the above three words – Independent • Impartial • Transparent – to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Division that decided Saoirse's complaint.
[Editor's note: Anyway, the above graphic comes from the U.K.'s Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal – not Ireland's. ]
For instance, we consider the one–line reason given by the three member Division in Example 1 to fall short in transparency. An explanation of how Damian Brass “adequately rebutted” the clear and plain evidence by never referring to it or the issues it raised in any way whatsoever might have been helpful in allaying the inevitable conclusion that the Tribunal Division's decision is illogical and absurd.
Given the lack of any further clarification by the Tribunal, it is difficult to conclude that the Tribunal members based their decision “upon due consideration of the affidavit or affidavits (and any documents exhibited thereto) furnished to the Tribunal Registrar by or on behalf of the applicant and by or on behalf of the respondent solicitor.”
Nor are the workings of the Division transparent. The Tribunal, either in its Rules or the Annual Reports never clarifies whether the decision must be unanimous, by a majority, or simply made by the Chairman of the Division. So, no – we would not be guilty of describing the Tribunal as transparent.
[Editor's note: As always, we are eager to be corrected. Concurrent with the publication of this page, an invitation was sent to each of the three Tribunal Division members to comment:
We have focussed on two examples, showing the complaint, affidavits, and exhibits for each.
As one of the three members of the Division that made the decision, we invite you to view these examples and comment on them and this decision.
The two examples can be viewed here: Example One Example Two
The Members of Dolores-Maxwell.com
Anyone who can offer understanding concerning this decision is invited to do so. Submissions ]
Maybe our opinion of the Tribunal as visualized above is too harsh or just plain unreasonable. So let us ponder another example.
Saoirse's overall goal in initiating this complaint against Jaggers and Brass was not so much to have what she perceives as the conflict of interest, lies, and inadequate (nay, terrible) representation that Jaggers and Brass exhibited in the case of her Mom and Dad held up to the light and accounted for. Or to have an accounting of what happened to another vulnerable elder, her uncle Patrick.
It was hoped that what she saw as the obvious and egregious wrongdoing by Jaggers and Brass would lead to a wider investigation and accounting of Ethan Maxwell.
As we reported in Example 1, the three members of the SDT Division – solicitor Hugh O'Neill (Chairman of the Division), solicitor Caroline Devlin, and layperson Dermot Eagney – returned a decision of “no prima facie case of misconduct” concerning each and every complaint.
This page details another example of the complaint and the affidavits on which the Division based their decision. In this second example, the complaint is one of but several instances where Saoirse believes she was misled by Damian Brass. Each instance is supported by much documentation. As are each of her complaints to the SDT concerning Jaggers and Brass
This particular complaint of being misled by Damian Brass concerns Dolores' financial and telephone records. A very few burnt financial records were retrieved from the back of Dolores' fireplace. A few more were found stuck to the bottom of the rubbish bin outside. And those spotty records were disturbing, to say the least. In but one of many examples, during one three month period after Cecil had died, more than €170,000 passed through Dolores' account.
Damian Brass knew about these and many other instances of financial irregularities (some happened while Dolores was in Wexford General), and readily agreed that Dolores' financial accounts and records could and would be looked into once either the Enduring Power of Attorney was registered, or when the Grant of Probate came through. Dolores died before the EPA was put in effect.
Regarding this complaint, we find the Tribunal's decision and stated reason for it even more interesting than that of Example 1.
The Application from Saoirse
Sworn 24 October 2011:
2) The respondent solicitor(s) misled me by stating on several occasions he would provide me, through executor's power, authority to seek its client's, my mother's, financial and phone records. (EXHIBIT B – Pages 301-331)
- Damian Brass confirmed in a meeting held on November 04, 2010 at Wexford General Hospital, with Geoffrey Blair HSE Senior Elder Abuse Caseworker, Nathaniel Maxwell and Saoirse Maxwell his willingness to obtain Dolores Maxwell's financial statements with a view to recovering any monies wrongfully taken from her accounts. He expressed that although he had represented Ethan Maxwell in the past, he would now solely represent Dolores Maxwell in this regard.
- Damian Brass confirmed in a meeting with Saoirse Maxwell held on February 02, 2011, his and Langdon Jaggers's willingness to obtain all of Dolores Maxwell's bank and credit card statements when there was a Grant of Probate.
- Damian Brass confirmed in a meeting with Saoirse Maxwell held on February 02, 2011, his and Langdon Jaggers's willingness to give Saoirse Maxwell authority through the Executors to pursue Dolores Maxwell's financial statements, when there was a Grant of Probate.
- In correspondence to Damian Brass from Saoirse Maxwell dated
- December 07, 2010
- March 14, 2011
- April 13, 2011
- June 17, 2011
- The Grant of Probate for Dolores Maxwell's estate was granted on May 31, 2011. In contradiction to all his previous statements regarding his willingness to seek Dolores Maxwell statements after a Grant of Probate, Damian Brass informed Saoirse Maxwell in a telephone conversation June 24, 2011 of his intention not to seek any of Dolores Maxwell's financial records until after all of Dolores Maxwell's accounts were closed.
- Correspondence from Saoirse Maxwell to Damian Brass dated July 08, 2011 seeking clarification on his intentions regarding Dolores Maxwell's financial accounts.
[Editor's note: The pertinent parts of this and the following letters have been highlighted. ]
- In contradiction to his previous statements, Damian Brass stated to Saoirse Maxwell in correspondence of July 11, 2011, that he would not seek Dolores Maxwell's financial records. He raised the question of whether he had a legal obligation to do so, and the potential cost to the estate.
- Correspondence from Saoirse Maxwell to Damian Brass dated July 18 2011, stating her willingness and intention to bear all costs of obtaining Dolores Maxwell's financial records. Damian Brass has not responded to this letter.
- Damian Brass confirmed in a telephone conversation with Saoirse Maxwell on June 24, 2011 his willingness to provide authority through the Executors to Saoirse Maxwell, in order to obtain information regarding Dolores Maxwell's telephone accounts.
- Correspondence from Saoirse Maxwell to Damian Brass dated June 29 2011, stating Eircom had agreed to release records for one of Dolores Maxwell's telephone accounts, and asking him to forward these records to her.
- Correspondence from Damian Brass to Saoirse Maxwell dated July 04, 2011. In contradiction to his statement of June 24 2011, he states his view that these telephone records may be deemed “assets” of Dolores Maxwell's estate and might not be released, pending a decision by the Executors.
- Correspondence from Saoirse Maxwell to Damian Brass dated July 08 2011, seeking clarification of the telephone records and his previous statement regarding them on June 24, 2011.
- Correspondence from Damian Brass to Saoirse Maxwell dated July 11, 2011. In contradiction once again to his statement of June 24 2011, Damian Brass stated that no decision regarding the Eircom telephone records would be made until he, Langdon Jaggers, and Ethan Maxwell, Executors of Dolores Maxwell's Estate, met to discuss it.
- Correspondence from Saoirse Maxwell to Damian Brass dated July 18 2011, stating her willingness and intention to bear all costs of obtaining Dolores Maxwell's telephone records, and seeking further clarification on this issue. Damian Brass has not responded to this letter.
The Responding Affidavit from Damian Brass
Sworn 08 December 2011:
[Editor's note: Some of the Exhibits in Saoirse's Further Affidavit consist of transcripts and recordings of meetings and telephone conversations. The Tribunal was provided with the complete audio and transcript for each. For brevity's sake here, we include only the pertinent excerpts that each Exhibit refers to. ]
The Further Affidavit from Saoirse
Sworn 16 January 2011:
- In paragraph 11 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states the “Applicant claims that I misled her by stating on several occasions that I would provide her, through Executor's power, authority to seek her mother's financial and phone records. This is incorrect.” Damian Brass' statement is incorrect and false, as shown by my following paragraphs numbered 96 to 111.
- I exhibit a transcript of a meeting with Damian Brass, Nathaniel Maxwell, Geoffrey Blair (HSE Elder Abuse) and me which took place 04 November 2010 at Wexford General Hospital in which Damian Brass states “Well, I don't want to put you off (Unintelligible), but the point is, I think the primary objective at the moment is your mother's health and secondly, and the next issue is the expenses and whatever Ethan might have done, or Ronan to a lesser extent with your mother's affairs. And we will be able to pursue all that, like I will be your mother's solicitor.” See Exhibit D, page 217, lines 85 to 92.
- In this meeting of 04 November 2010 Damian Brass further states “I mean, I know I did act for Ethan in the past, you know, you know that because I did act for him when he bought a house. I did do that. But your mother was the first client and your father was before him, so, and if I'm going to have to decide who I'm acting for, it's your mother, sorry, not Ethan. That's out. But I mean, we can pursue all those things afterwards and we can get copies of the bank statements, and we can try to recover it, and you know, being logical about it, if Ethan has taken money that he shouldn't have taken, I mean, Ethan does own a house so there are assets there to meet any claims you want to make against him but that can be dealt with later, but unfortunately, like, until we actually manage to get access to your mother's accounts and affairs, we can't do very much…” See Exhibit D, page 218, lines 94 to 117.
- In this meeting of 04 November 2010 Damian Brass further states, speaking of Mom's Enduring Power of Attorney, “…your mother didn't restrict it in any way, so if the document goes through, yes, I can look after everything on behalf of your mother. Of course, totally acting in your mother's interests. (Unintelligible) I can, at that stage, I can pursue any concerns about your mother's (Unintelligible) …I can ask for bank statements, etc., and pursue as much as you want of that. And I don't have a conflict of interest, I mean it's not as if I'm going to find something I'm not going to tell you or wouldn't pursue it ’though I should, once I get this registered.” See Exhibit D, page 226, lines 324 to 338. (I note here that Mom's EPA as per her request was not unrestricted. See Damian Brass' Attendance note of a phone call with Mom dated 27 May 2009, Exhibit B, page 59.)
- In this meeting of 04 November 2010 Damian Brass further states “Yes, but, but, once again, we can look at those things after the administration, there's lots of issues and I'm sure there's ten more that haven't even been thought about which will come to light when we get access to all her affairs.” See Exhibit D, page 228, lines 378 to 388.
- I exhibit a transcript of a meeting with Damian Brass and me which took place 01 February 2011 in which Damian Brass states “The thing I don't have in this is, to get back to the credit card, I, it's much easier for me to get a grant of probate, they might do Ulster Bank, I think it's Visa or something like that, MasterCard, and I'll say to them, here's the Grant of Probate, I need the statements going back, you know, whatever, but at the moment, I'm only the executor, I'm not issuing, there's no (Unintelligible) so, (Unintelligible)” See Exhibit E, page 271, lines 333 to 341.
- In this meeting of 01 February 2011 Damian Brass further states “The question is should it have ever been due back, that's the issue, but it was due at the time of death so it has to go in so, as a secondary measure, we can then find out what this was for, or, I mean, was she taking out cash all over the place, it wouldn't be like your mother, whatever, I have to put it in there.” See Exhibit E, page 271, lines 349 to 354.
- In this meeting of 01 February 2011 Damian Brass further states “I think it will say is that this will is valid, and personally, I think the will is valid, it might be almost a favour that Ethan took himself out of it, you know. I mean I don't know, but I think we'll end up getting a Grant of Probate, because that will allow us access to information that we currently don't have. So if you said to me, I want all the bank statements, or all the credit card statements, I'll get you all the credit card statements, to be (Unintelligible) Langdon and I (alone?) know what to do, and we'll make sure Ethan does, we'll consent on behalf of the executors, on the Grant of Probate allowing Saoirse, you know, get all this information. I'm not saying it's (Unintelligible nothing? something?) (you? new?) but I will facilitate you 100 per cent.” See Exhibit E, page 295, lines 1055 to 1070.
- In this meeting of 01 February 2011 Damian Brass further states “I'll just say that once having probate, we'll be able to, I will say something like we'll be able to, um, more actively pursue financially detailed information if anyone has concerns…” See Exhibit E, page 299, lines 1168 to 1170.
- In a phone call between Damian Brass and me which took place 24 June 2011, speaking of Mom's telephone and other records he states “Well, see, I mean, I don't want to sound like I only considered this, but, what I would have thought, I mean, I don't have a problem, and Langdon Jaggers won't have a problem, and of course I haven't even thought about Ethan, but, we wouldn't have any problem giving any letter of authority to anybody, saying, this is, you, you have our full authority to do this.” See Exhibit I, page 347, lines 63 to 107.
- In paragraph 11 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states, speaking of Mom's financial and telephone records, “I advised the Applicant that I would consider the matter with my co-respondent solicitor, Langdon Jaggers and Ethan Maxwell the third Executor of the Will.” I respond to this in my following paragraphs numbered 106 to 108
- In the interest of accuracy, I note that Damian Brass made the above advisement to me solely concerning Mom's telephone records, and not her financial records as he states in his paragraph 11. Damian Brass exhibits a letter from him to me dated 11 July 2011, which he has marked as exhibit “C” in his responding Affidavit. I also exhibit this letter to me as Exhibit C page 172. I exhibit my letter to Damian Brass dated 07 July 2011; this is the letter he is responding to in his 11 July 2011 letter. See Exhibit C pages 167 to 171.
- In his letter of 11 July 2011 Damian Brass states in item 3 “Once the three Executors have had an opportunity of meeting, a decision will be taken as to whether it would be appropriate to forward Eircom records to you.” It was in response to my question concerning Mom's phone records in my letter of 07 July 2011: “Will you forward these records to me upon receipt?”
- I note that Damian Brass also applies the exact same answer to my query “If you deem these to be assets of my mother's estate, please explain why you flatly refused my request to seek these assets in our recent phone conversation.” His answer to me falls short of addressing this query; it doesn't make any sense. The reference in my statement to Mom's phone records being ‘assets’ of her estate was in response to Damian Brass’ letter to me dated 04 July 2011 in which he states “One could argue that the phone records are ‘assets’ in your mother's estate and should therefore not be released to any party without the permission of the Executors, including Ethan. I have discussed the matter here with my co-executor, Langdon Jaggers, and we both agreed to give it some further thought.” See Exhibit C page 164. This statement greatly troubled me as it was in direct opposition to his statement to me ten days previously, as detailed in my paragraph 104 above.
- In paragraph 11 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states, speaking of Mom's financial and telephone records, “A number of other beneficiaries in the deceased's estate (being siblings of the Applicant) have made it clear that they do not want any investigation into such records.” Damian Brass offers no evidence of this, or any indication of how this matter may have been presented to the residual beneficiaries. He does not state whether he informed the residual beneficiaries of my complete willingness and intention to bear the costs of seeking these records, or if he informed the beneficiaries that the estate would not be decreased and quite possibly substantially increased to all of the residual beneficiaries' benefit. I exhibit an email from Alex Maxwell to me dated 20 Dec 2011 in which he states “My only suggestion to you for the tribunal would be to see about examining bank account activity over the last year she was alive.” See exhibit C, page 202.
- In paragraph 11 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states “…the value of the deceased's estate is not significant.” Mom's estate is significant to me. It was most assuredly significant to both Mom and Dad. Overwhelming evidence indicates that Mom's estate would have been some €500,000 more “significant” if not for Damian Brass' client and co-Executor Ethan Maxwell.
- Damian Brass stated to me repeatedly that he would seek, help me to seek, or give me authority to seek Mom's records. The fact that nowhere in the written record of his correspondence does any reference to this occur is troubling. All of his written statements concerning this (which only started to occur on 04 July 2011) have opposed the many previous statements he made to me. I consider it a very strong likelihood this lack of a written record was a consequence of a deliberate and careful strategy to mislead me and protect his client and co-Executor Ethan Maxwell to the detriment of Mom's estate and her nine residual beneficiaries.
- In paragraph 36 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states “As pointed out in preceding paragraphs, the Applicant is not a client of this firm.” I have responded to this previously in my paragraph 77:
- In paragraph 9 of Damian Brass' Affidavit of 08 December 2011 he states “the Applicant is not my client.” I am a residual beneficiary in the estate of my Mother, Dolores Maxwell. Damian Brass and Langdon Jaggers both fulfil the role of solicitor/executor in that estate. I rely on the High Court decision in Condon-v-Law Society from 23 February 2010. I exhibit that decision in Exhibit J, pages 352 to 363 and exhibit an article from the Law Society Gazette from the July 2010 issue addressing this in Exhibit J, pages 364 to 366.
[Editor's note: The astute reader will no doubt recognise the “E” Exhibits above from the animation from A Meeting Between Damian Brass and Saoirse ]
There was no further exchange of affidavits regarding this complaint. Damian Brass did send a letter on 21 February 2012 to the Registrar to inform them he would not be seeking to submit a “Third Responding Affidavit.” As in Example 1, we present it here for completeness.
The above application, affidavits and exhibits constitute the entirety of the information that the Caroline Devlin, Dermot Eagney, and Hugh O'Neill would consider and base their decision on concerning whether or not Damian Brass misled Saoirse regarding obtaining Dolores' financial and phone records.
The question before them is this:
Is there a prima facie case for misconduct? That is, on the face of it, at first reading, does the evidence provided by Saoirse seem sufficient to prove misconduct? If so, was substantial contradictory evidence provided by Damian Brass to refute it?
After due consideration of all the above Affidavits and Exhibits, the Division made their decision:
We note that the considered decision of the Tribunal is grounded in Saoirse's complaint and evidence being successfully rebutted by Damian Brass' contradictory evidence. This is interesting, in that Damian Brass' Responding Affidavit labels Saoirse's assertions about his statements regarding Dolores' financial and telephone records as “incorrect.” He denied misleading Saoirse in any way (and there were several other allegations of being misled regarding other subjects), and claims Saoirse provided no evidence. Yet Damian's own voice confirms beyond any doubt (let alone a prima facie case) that Saoirse's allegations and description of his conduct are true.
[Editor's note: As Editor, in my comments here I feel no constraint to use the euphemism “misled.” From this editor's view, the above complaint, affidavits and exhibits not only show that Damian Brass repeatedly lied to Saoirse, but also lied to the Tribunal. That would be perjury, as all these affidavits and exhibits (with one notable exception by Damian not seen in this example) are sworn statements.
And so Catherine, Hugh, and Dermot, let me ask a simple question of you: WTF!!?? ]
[Editor's note: Saoirse's decision whether to appeal this decision by the Tribunal to the High Court will be the subject of the next and final page in this series.
The members of Dolores-Maxwell.com are also considering whether to publish the complete complaint, affidavits and exhibits. That would not be a trivial undertaking with over a thousand pages of documents involved, but it would be very enlightening concerning the abuse Dolores suffered.
As always, we seek and encourage anyone with knowledge of Dolores' life and/or the events presented here to contribute to this site. Memories, anecdotes, photos and documents are more than welcome. Clarification, correction and alternative views are encouraged and welcomed. Submissions ]