Pensioner faces huge legal bill after losing lawsuit against golf club
An Irish pensioner is facing a huge legal bill after losing a €10m lawsuit in which he accused his former golf club of branding him a cheat.
According to the Irish Independent, Thomas Talbot, a 75-year-old retired insurance official, claimed his reputation was damaged after Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Co Dublin reduced his handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004, claiming he was "handicap building."
(A 'handicap' is the number of strokes allocated to a golfer based on ability, while 'handicap building' is purposely playing below one's ability to get a more generous stroke allowance.)
Mr. Talbot sued the club and its former handicap secretary, Eddie Murphy, in the High Court for defamation, but the case was struck out on Friday.
Talbot says he now has to appeal to the Supreme Court as he is unable to pay the €500,000 legal bill.
Mr Justice Daniel Herbert did find the words "handicap building" defamatory, but he was satisfied that the words were not published to a third party, a requirement for a document to be libellous.
"I may have lost the fight, but I haven't lost the battle," said Talbot, who represented himself in court.
"What can I do except appeal or shut up and bare it. I have to appeal; I have no choice. I said to him (the judge) 'I will accept your decision -- although I think you are totally wrong -- if, at least, you don't award costs against me'. He then turned to the other side and said 'the costs are in your favour.'
"I was making a conciliatory effort to end the case amicably by at least putting the costs on to them.
"I certainly haven't a tuppence to rub together. It has to be appealed because I can't afford €500,000 costs in a case I should have won.
"I rent my home and I've a few policies that are meant to be payments for Alison, Nicola, Colin and Frances (his children) when the eldest is 50 years of age, which will be in 2018. The rest is just enough to pay the rent and live on," he told the Irish Independent.
He added: "He (the judge) could have concluded it fully and finally for all time if he had just awarded the cost against people who could afford to pay them. I said to him that I thought the judgment was wrong and I will appeal."
Although the 21-day trial ended last February, Talbot had to wait until Friday for the verdict.
"I can and will be appealing on points of law; on the basis I am entitled to a trial by judge and jury," he said.
"I am appealing to the Supreme Court on Monday on the basis there are arguments in fact and in law that are in dispute. I was aware that costs generally go with the judgment; I was aware of that risk from the outset."
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