ACC’s battle to recoup €6m loan ends in High Court

A LENGTHY legal battle between businessman Jerry Beades and ACC Bank has ended at the High Court with orders meaning Mr Beades and his company now face a total liability of €1.5 million out of loans of more than €6m advanced to them by the bank.

Mr Beades was also yesterday given an unusual length of time — 16 months — by Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan to repay the e1.5m sum because of several factors, particularly the bank’s loss for two years of title deeds of properties owned by Mr Beades which, the judge previously ruled, caused him substantial losses.

The bank had sought repayment within a maximum three-month period while Mr Beades looked for two years, but the judge ruled a 16-month stay would do justice to both sides.

She said she was taking into account that the situation in which Mr Beades and his company found themselves was due in part to the matters in the case.

The general market situation was also a factor and she would allow a reasonable period to provide for sales of apartments, the proceeds of which were intended to meet the ACC debt.

In allowing a 16-month stay to June 30, 2010 she was also taking into account that it was in Mr Beades’ favour that no interest would apply to the judgment sum until after the stay expired, the judge said.

The judge was making final orders in the proceedings by ACC against Mr Beades and Fairlee Properties Ltd, of Richmond Road, Fairview, Dublin.

Earlier this month, in a decision clarifying issues relating to banks’ duty of care to customers, the judge ruled the bank was liable for more than e4.76m damages to Mr Beades over losses suffered by him due to the bank’s negligence in losing title deeds over a two-year period.

The damages were set off against ACC’s agreed entitlement to repayment of loans of some e6.27m made to Mr Beades and Fairlee.

Yesterday, on consent of both sides, the judge made orders for judgment in the sum of e1,508,838 against Mr Beades and Fairlee.

It was also agreed there would be a stay on the judgment, with interest at the Courts Act rate applying on the judgment sum only after the stay expired and there would be no order for costs in the case, meaning each side bears their own costs of the entire proceedings.

Shane Murphy SC, for ACC, said the only dispute remaining between the sides related to the length of the stay. The bank wanted a maximum three-month stay and contended the two years sought by Mr Beades was unreasonable.

Mr Beades had had the benefit of the ACC monies and, while he contended his ability to repay had been greatly affected by the economic crisis and the downturn in the property market, these factors also affected the bank, counsel added.

Aidan Redmond SC, for Mr Beades, said the two-year stay was sought given the “almost apocalyptic” times relating to securing credit and the extraordinary difficulty in raising finance.

Counsel said Mr Beades has a development at Richmond Avenue, the building of which was expected to complete in September while the selling period would probably take a year after that. It was hoped the sale proceeds would address the indebtedness to ACC.

He argued that the court should take into account, had the bank not lost the title deeds resulting in the delays to the development, “we would not be here at all”.

ACC also held a charge on a Richmond Road site owned by Fairlee and there was an aspiration to build there but the difficulty was in raising finance.

ACC advanced loans to Fairlee in 2000 and 2001 to enable it buy properties at Richmond Road.

The bank’s loss of the title deeds delayed Fairlee’s ability to draw down other loans from Bank of Scotland Ireland and to proceed with planned developments.

After Mr Beades visited ACC’s parent company, Rabobank, in the Netherlands in April 2006, ACC gave Fairlee an additional e3 million interest free loan and also provided an indemnity to Bank of Scotland Ireland which in turn granted some loans to the defendants.

The judge ruled ACC had breached its duty of care to the defendants to take care of the deeds and Mr Beades was entitled to some e4,769,472 damages from the bank.

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