Solicitor who sued ISME gets further apology and damages from business group

Solicitor Who Sued Isme Gets Further Apology And Damages From Business Group
Limerick solicitor Gerard O'Neill previously settled an action over comments in ISME press releases
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High Court reporters

A solicitor who received €75,000 and an apology over defamatory press releases issued by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) has received a second High Court apology and damages over a letter ISME sent to the Minister for Justice.

In November 2022, Limerick solicitor Gerard O'Neill settled an action over the comments in ISME press releases about a personal injuries action in which he represented two people involved in a traffic accident.


In a High Court judgment in 2019, a judge dismissed one of those claims as probably fraudulent and dismissed the other because evidence was misleading and exaggerated.

Arising out of that judgment, ISME issued three statements in 2019 - on September 23rd, December 11th and December 16th - which wrongly suggested Mr O'Neill had been guilty of professional misconduct. A complaint by ISME to the Law Society about him was rejected.

Mr O'Neill, practising as O'Neill &Co Solicitors, Glentworth Street, Limerick, issued High Court defamation proceedings against the ISME company in 2020.

Before the case went to trial, the parties settled it in November 2022 with an apology read out in the High Court in which ISME acknowledged the statements it had made about the defamation case were untrue and had paid Mr O'Neill compensation.


The information about the €75,000 was revealed in a letter ISME sent on October 19th, 2022, to the Minister for Justice referring to the defamation proceedings by Mr O'Neill.

That letter led to more proceedings by Mr O'Neill and the case, set down for trial before a jury over three days, was settled on Tuesday on the basis of an apology which was read out by Thomas Hogan SC, with Roland Rowan BL, on behalf of the defendant.

The apology stated that the October 19th, 2022, letter suggested that the defamation proceedings had not been genuinely brought to protect Mr O'Neill's good name.

"ISME wishes to acknowledge that this is also wholly untrue and deeply unfair to Mr O'Neill and has caused him upset and distress.

"ISME wishes to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Mr O'Neill and his family for its remarks and has agreed to pay him damages and his legal costs".

It has also agreed not to publish further defamatory statements concerning him.

Paul O'Higgins SC, with Peter Shanley BL, asked that the matter be put back for implementation of the terms of the settlement. Mr Justice Alexander Owens adjourned it for three weeks.

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