Film director Jim Sheridan sues law firm over sale of €10m former home
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jim Sheridan is suing a law firm involved in the sale of his former multi-million euro seafront home.
The High Court action is the latest dispute Mr Sheridan has become embroiled in relating to the property known as Martha’s Vineyard, in Dalkey.
He bought the property for €10m in 2008 and spent several million euro building a 3,400 square foot villa.
However, it was an ill-fated investment as the property was dogged by structural issues, and he sold it for €2.3m in 2016.
A number of legal disputes connected to the property have yet to be resolved.
The latest of these involves disputed claims that solicitor John Murchan failed to release the entire client file relating to the sale to Mr Sheridan and he had unlawfully retained €68,756 belonging to the filmmaker and his late wife, Fran.
Mr Murchan, who practices as Murchan and Company Solicitors in Dublin, denies the claims.
The sale was initially hand-led by another Dublin law firm, Kirwan McKeown James.
Mr Sheridan and his wife dispensed with their services and Mr Murchan was hired to complete the transaction.
Mr Sheridan claims Mr Murchan breached the terms of a 2014 agreement by not releasing the entire client file relating to the sale.
He also claims Mr Murchan demanded payment of an outstanding fee of €21,280 before he would release the file.
However, although this was paid, only “a partial file” was provided, Mr Sheridan alleges.
He claims the partial file contained only correspondence and documentation from after the middle of 2016, while the conveyancing transaction had begun in July 2014.
Mr Sheridan says serious issues had arisen in relation to the conveyancing, and it was essential he got the full file to establish where legal liability rests for various matters.
In his statement of claim, he also alleges Mr Murchan had retained €68,756 belonging to him and his wife since 2014 and refused to repay the sum despite demands to do so.
Mr Sheridan alleges Mr Murchan asserted the money was the subject of an undertaking provided by the solicitor to Kirwan McKeown James.
However, the filmmaker claims no undertaking was ever given.
The matter came before the High Court yesterday, when Mr Sheridan had a motion for judgment against Mr Murchan in default of an appearance.
However, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told by Cormac Ó Dúlacháin SC, for Mr Murchan, that the motion could be struck out on consent and that the file Mr Sheridan had been concerned about was handed to him earlier.
Mr Sheridan, who represented himself in court, said Mr Murchan filed an appearance last Friday and sent him an email with his defence.
In his defence, Mr Murchan denied Mr Sheridan’s allegations and said he performed his contractual obligations in a competent and professional manner.
He said he had complied with requests for the files in 2018 and last year and that on both occasions these had been given to Mr Sheridan’s wife.
He said he had been entitled to demand payment of fees before releasing the file.
Mr Murchan also said he lawfully held €60,208, not €68,756 as alleged by Mr Sheridan, on foot of an undertaking to Kirwan McKeown James.
That firm is pursuing Mr Sheridan for €68,000 it says it is owed. Mr Sheridan maintains there was a fixed fee agreement to charge him and his wife €5,000.
That row was due to be the subject of a hearing at the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators in March, but was referred to the High Court after Mr Sheridan made claims of negligence, which the firm denies.