If you have lost money because of your solicitor’s actions, the Law Society Compensation Fund may be able to help you. All practising solicitors in Ireland must contribute to the Fund every year. The fund processes claims for:
- Compensation where a client believes his or her solicitor was dishonest, and
- Refunds from a solicitor’s firm where the courts or the Law Society now controls client money.
Compensation fund guide
Find more information using the links below:
This guide is not a full explanation of the law. You should get legal advice if you would like more detailed information about the Solicitors Acts or a second opinion on a Law Society decision about your claim.
If you wish to claim on the Compensation Fund, or claim a refund of money now in the control of the courts or the Law Society, you must download and complete the Compensation Fund Claim Form.
Updated Compensation Fund regulations
New Regulations came into effect on 1 February 2019.
Claim procedure guidelines
For information on claims, see the 'Guidelines on Compensation Fund Claims Procedures'.
The Compensation Fund is governed by:
- Section 21 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1960, as substituted by Section 29 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 and amended by Section 16 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 2002; and
- Solicitors (Compensation Fund) Regulations 2018 (SI 548/2018).
View the Solicitors Acts and Regulations for more information:
Address: Claims Administrator, Law Society of Ireland, George’s Court, George’s Lane, North King Street, Dublin 7
DX: DX 1025 Four Courts
Phone: +353 1 879 8700
Fax: +353 1 879 8769
See information on the type of loss that can be claimed below.
Who can make a claim on the Fund?
You can make a claim on the Fund if you were the client of a solicitor and you have lost money that you gave them because they were dishonest.
You can also make a claim if you were the client of a solicitor and you have lost money that was:
- Received by the solicitor on your behalf; and
- to be passed on to you or to others.
You can also submit a claim if your money is now under the control of the courts or the Law Society.
Can I claim missing money?
Yes. You can claim for money paid to the solicitor that is now missing because of the solicitor’s dishonesty.
Can I claim back money paid to the solicitor on my behalf?
Yes. You can claim for money that:
- The solicitor received on your behalf;
- was to be passed on to you or to others; and
- is now missing because of the solicitor’s dishonesty.
My money is not missing, but I have been told that it is now under the control of the courts or the Law Society. How can I get it back?
Fill in the claim form if you want to:
- Claim from the Law Society Compensation Fund;
- be paid back money that is now in the control of the courts or the Law Society; or
- claim back money from both.
If you need to apply to have your money released from the control of the courts, we will handle this for you free of charge.
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Can I claim back stamp duty?
Yes. You can claim back stamp duty if:
- You were buying a property;
- you gave your solicitor money to stamp and register your deeds;
- your deeds have not been stamped or registered; and
- the money is missing.
You can make your claim for stamp duty before or after you actually pay the stamp duty to the Revenue Commissioners.
Can I claim from the Fund if my solicitor was negligent?
No. If you have lost money because of your solicitor but not because of dishonesty, you may wish to consult a new solicitor about taking an action against your previous solicitor. An example of this is if your previous solicitor was negligent.
If I have to pay a new solicitor to finish the work, who will pay my new solicitor’s fees?
You can claim legal fees from us for your new solicitor if you:
- Are claiming for missing money;
- have already paid your previous solicitor to do the work; and
- now have to go to a new solicitor to get them to finish the work for you.
For example, if you have a conveyancing transaction that your new solicitor must finish and they have to do the typical work, we will pay them the current guideline fee. If they have to do less than the usual work, we will pay them a smaller fee.
Does the fund cover legal fees I may have to pay to make my claim?
No. The Fund does not cover any legal fees you may have to pay for preparing and submitting a claim on the Compensation Fund.
What is the maximum claim on the fund?
The maximum claim is €700,000 for each client.
My claim has been paid, but I have lost more money than I first realised. Can I make another claim?
Yes. You can claim for further losses that are discovered after you submit your claim or we pay it. If these losses relate to the same solicitor, you do not need to submit a new claim form. You should just send us the details of the loss.
Will the Fund pay for work that my previous solicitor started but has not finished?
We consider each case individually. We will consider the benefit of your previous solicitor’s work and whether your new solicitor is able to use that work. Then we will pay a reasonable part of your new solicitor’s fee.
We will not pay a full fee if your new solicitor is able to use the work that your previous solicitor did.
Will the Fund pay conveyancing fees?
Most claims to the Fund relate to buying a property. If you were a purchaser, and your new solicitor has had to finalise the transaction for you, we will usually pay up to €750 plus VAT. We will also pay expenses that you have already paid for. The work involved typically includes the following, although there are other tasks that may also be done:
- Taking up the file from the Law Society;
- reviewing the file and title documents;
- paying the stamp duty;
- arranging mapping;
- paying local authority charges;
- registering the title, including any mortgage; and
- dealing with queries from the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds.
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See information on the process of making a claim below.
How do I claim compensation from the Fund?
You may have already received a form, but if not, you can download it below:
How soon must I make a claim?
You must submit your claim to our Fund within 12 months of the date you first become aware that your money is missing. For example, if you find out your money is missing on 1 October 2018, you must make your claim before 1 October 2019.
If there are exceptional circumstances, you can apply to us to extend this time.
Your money may be taken long before you find out about it. We treat the date you find out about the loss as the date the loss happened. This applies even if you do not know exactly how much you have lost.
If you do not know the total amount of your loss when you apply for compensation, you still need to write the date you found out about the loss on your application. When you do find out all the details of the loss, you can give us the details.
If you make a claim more than 12 months after you find out about your loss and we believe there is no good reason to extend the deadline, we will not accept your claim even if it is otherwise valid.
Do I have to use a solicitor to make a claim?
No, we are happy to receive forms directly from you.
Do I need evidence to support my claim?
Yes. Along with your application form, please send us the following information:
- The amounts that were paid by the solicitor; or
- the amounts paid by others to your solicitor that should have been paid to you,
- relevant documents and an explanation for each individual document.
The requirements are the same whether you are making a claim on the Compensation Fund or a claim for a refund of money under the control of the courts or the Law Society. The type of evidence we need includes:
- Receipts given to you by your solicitor;
- relevant bank statements from you;
- copies of any cheques you paid to the solicitor – usually you can get these from your bank;
- copies of any bills the solicitor may have sent you for payment – if you cannot get these, we will need details of the fee you agreed with the solicitor for the work; and
- details of any other matters the solicitor was dealing with for you.
If you do not have any supporting documents, you must fully explain the facts of the case in the claim form. If we need additional information, we will write back to you shortly after we receive your claim form.
Do I have to confirm what I say is true?
Yes. When you have completed your form, you must formally swear that its contents are true. To do this, you must bring the form to a practising solicitor or Commissioners for Oaths. (A Commissioner for Oaths is a person who has been specially appointed by the courts to be available for people who want to swear oaths in front of them.) Any solicitor will be able to help you.
The solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths will ask you to affirm that what you have said in the form is true. By doing this, you are confirming that the documentation is true and accurate as far as you are aware. Then you will have to sign the form in front of the solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths. You will be charged a set fee for each signature on the form. The fee is about €12. If the solicitor or commissioner does not know you, you should bring your passport or national identity card.
If a person swears something that they know to be untrue, it can be perjury (lying to a court). If you commit perjury, you may be prosecuted. If you are convicted, a court may fine you, imprison you or both.
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Who are other interested parties? How do I reply to this question?
Other interested parties are people or organisations who are entitled to some or all of the money that is missing. Write the name of any person or organisation you feel is entitled to this money.
I know that my money is missing, but I do not know how my solicitor was dishonest. Will this be a problem?
Our application form asks you what you know about your solicitor’s dishonesty. Answer this question. You may have no knowledge of the dishonesty. If this is the case, say so. Even if this is the case, we may know that there has been dishonesty. If this is the case, you will have enough evidence to make a claim.
Where should I send the application form?
Send your application form to the address on the front cover. We will then check your form. We will contact you if we need more information to process the claim.
How long will it take to deal with the claim?
Normally, we deal with a claim within three months of getting it. It may take longer if:
- You don’t fill in your application correctly;
- you don’t include all the relevant supporting documentation; or
- the circumstances of the case are complex.
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See information on the possible outcomes of your claim, and how to seek a review of your claim, below.
What are the possible decisions the Law Society will make?
We will decide to:
- Pay the claim in full;
- pay part of the claim;
- refuse the claim; or
- postpone the decision to a later meeting because more information is needed.
When we have made our decision, we will write to you. If we are going to pay only part of your claim, or if we are refusing your claim, we will tell you why.
If we are paying all or part of your claim, we will also send you a cheque.
In some circumstances, we will pay your claim in instalments. However, this is unusual. If it happens in your case, we will explain the reasons why.
Can the Law Society refuse a claim even where dishonesty has been proven?
Yes. The Law Society may refuse to pay compensation where:
- The solicitor did not hold a practising certificate;
- your own dishonesty or negligence of the client contributed to the loss;
- you assisted with the misconduct of the solicitor; or
- the loss did not arise from providing legal services.
In addition, we will not compensate you if the loss is because of something other than dishonest misappropriation of money. For example, if a loss incurred due to the negligence of the solicitor.
We will not pay damages or for other losses relating to this loss. (These are called consequential loss).
Will there be any deductions from the amount of my claim?
When we decide how much you are due, we may deduct money for other fees or outlays, such as travel expenses or outlays that you owe your previous solicitor.
We will only deduct fees for work that was properly done by your previous solicitor and that did not have to be redone by your new solicitor. If your new solicitor has to redo the work, we will pay for it.
What happens if my claim is approved?
If we approve your claim, our claims section staff or a Law Society solicitor will contact you. They will explain the procedure in your particular case. If we need to apply to court to process your claim, we will do so as soon as we can and will keep you informed of the progress.
Does my previous solicitor have to pay the money back?
No. If we pay all or part of your claim, your previous solicitor owes this amount to us. When we pay you compensation, the rights you had against the solicitor for that amount pass to us. For instance, we might decide to sue the solicitor to get back the amount the Fund has paid to you. We ask you to agree to this in the claim form.
In the claim form, you agree that we may sue the solicitor in your name, if we need to. If this happens, we will pay the legal costs of pursuing such a claim.
What if I am unhappy with the Law Society’s decision?
If you are unhappy with how we handled your claim, you can refer the claim to a person known as the Independent Adjudicator. The Independent Adjudicator makes sure that we deal with claims on the Fund fairly and impartially.
The Independent Adjudicator can look at the Law Society’s file about your claim. If the Independent Adjudicator is not satisfied with how we handled your claim, they can direct us to reopen your file and look at it again.
You must contact the Independent Adjudicator within three years of our decision, by contacting:
The Independent Adjudicator
26/27 Upper Pembroke Street
Phone: +353 1 662 0457
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