Supreme Court decision on ability of financial institutions to seek home repossession orders to come later

The Supreme Court will give it decision later on an appeal which has implications for the ability of financial institutions to seek repossession orders where there is default on certain domestic property mortgages, writes Ann O'Loughlin

Permanent TSB has appealed a Court of Appeal decision of July last year which found the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to make possession orders for six Dublin properties mortgaged through PTSB by businessman David Langan.

The central issue was that Mr Langan's properties were built after 2001 when a new law dealing with the rateable valuation of property was passed.

The 2001 Valuation Act provided that domestic dwellings, subject to certain exceptions, were not rateable.

For a lender to seek a repossession order in the Circuit Court, it had been the situation that a property had to have a rateable valuation not exceeding €253.95. Valuations are set by a valuation commissioner.

Mr Langan argued, in legal proceedings brought against him by PTSB, that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to order repossession because his properties were not rateable.

New laws were passed in 2009 and 2013 which resolved the Circuit Court jurisdiction issue.

However, the Court of Appeal ruling meant that properties built after 2001, and not falling within the exceptions created by the 2009 and 2013 laws, were not subject to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, PTSB argued, among other things, that the effect of this decision was that applications for repossession, in instances such as the Langan case, would mean greater expense for litigants as they would have to go to the costlier High Court for them.

Brian Murray SC, for PTSB, said if the properties concerned were not rateable, and accordingly not rated, then it followed it was not the case that their rateable valuation exceeded €253. Therefore the Circuit Court had jurisdiction to deal with the case.

Louis McEntagart SC, for Mr Langan, contended the Appeal Copurt decision should stand. The Supreme Court should, as did the Court of Appeql, accept what is explicitly conferred on the Circuit Court under the laws governing its jurisdiction,he said.

Eoin McCullough SC, for the Attorney General, who asked to be brought into the case as an "intervening party", argued the CoA decision was erroneous, or at least too widely expressed.

It did not take into account Section 67 of the Valuation Act or it effects, as this provision means certain properties, including agricultural land, can be valued but are not rateable.

The five judge Supreme Court reserved its decision.

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