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Saturday, June 30, 2012
The adult children of solicitor Brian O’Donnell do not have the resources to fight a case in the big business division of the High Court, it was claimed yesterday.
Ross Maguire, representing Blake, Bruce, Blaise, and Alexandra O’Donnell, was making submissions in relation to an appeal before the Supreme Court against a decision permitting the fast-tracking to the Commercial Court of a legal action by Bank of Ireland against them over ownership of the contents of the family’s home in Killiney, Co Dublin.
Mr Maguire had applied to the Supreme Court for a stay on the Commercial Court proceedings pending the hearing of a full appeal against the order fast-tracking the case.
The matter was put back for three weeks after Mr Maguire agreed to a suggestion from the three judges of the Supreme Court that he should first apply for an adjournment of the Commercial Court case.
Mr Maguire argued that because Commercial Court matters are usually brought by organisations such as banks which have substantial resources, and are usually dealt with quickly, it was impossible for his clients to be ready within a timeframe as short as four weeks.
Blake and Alexandra are students, Blaise is a jobseeker, and Bruce is a non-practising solicitor, and they could not fund the substantial costs of litigation required for a Commercial Court case, counsel said.
Mr Maguire suggested the case could be put into the High Court non-jury list which is flexible in the way it deals with cases.
This case concerns the transfer of ownership of the family home contents to the four by their father Brian O’Donnell, who along with his doctor wife Mary Patricia, are being pursued by Bank of Ireland for a €75m judgment in relation to unpaid loans, mainly for property investments.
Counsel said ownership of the contents of the house, Gorse Hill in Killiney, was transferred in trust in 2000 to an Isle of Man-registered company, Chancery Trust Ltd, the shares in which are held by the four O’Donnell children. Brian O’Donnell put the contents of the house as an adjunct to a trust he created in return for right of residency for him in the house, counsel said.
Bank of Ireland had argued this transfer was a sham and had got court orders allowing its representatives to enter the house to take an inventory of the contents, counsel said. Since then, his clients had given an undertaking not to dissipate any of those assets pending the hearing of the court action by the bank.
Blaise O’Donnell said in an affidavit on behalf of her and her siblings that they did not have the resources to bring a Commercial Court action to a conclusion which could happen before the end of July, Mr Maguire said.
After Mr Justice Hardiman inquired of Paul Gardiner, for the bank, whether this matter was urgent, counsel said it had been before it was entered into the Commercial Court list on Jun 8, but that was not the case now. It is due back before Mr Justice Kelly this Monday.
In view of this, it was agreed the appeal could be put back for three weeks to allow Mr Maguire an opportunity to apply for an adjournment in the Commercial Court to give the defendants time to prepare their case more fully.
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