Solicitor denies that he mixed up concepts of ‘security’ and ‘recourse’

A SOLICITOR has denied he “mixed up” the concepts of security and recourse in an email stating Allied Irish Bank “no longer require any legal recourse” against businessman Philip Lynch, developer Gerry Conlan “and the Lynch children” for a €25 million loan to buy development lands in Waterford.

The Commercial Court has heard the email, written by solicitor Imdaad Sulaiman, was copied to Robert Burns, personal assistant to Mr Lynch, just hours before the Lynch family signed up to the €25m loan on February 8, 2007.

Mr Sulaiman was cross-examined yesterday in the continuing action before Mr Justice Michael Peart by the Lynch family against AIB and two law firms — LK Shields and Matheson Ormsby Prentice — aimed at preventing AIB pursuing them over the loan.

The family claim the loan was a non-recourse facility secured on the Waterford lands.

AIB denies that, insists the loan involves full recourse to the family and is counterclaiming for €25m orders against them and, in separate proceedings, is also claiming €25m judgment against Mr Conlan.

The family have alleged negligence by both law firms and are claiming indemnities from them concerning the claims by AIB. Both firms deny the claims against them.

Mr Sulaiman, a solicitor with LK Shields in 2007, said the information in his email sent on the morning of February 8, 2007, was based on information provided to him by another solicitor, Ronan McLoughlin in the firm of Matheson Ormsby Prentice. He was “simply passing the information on” and had no reason to doubt it, he said.

He agreed that email was sent before he received the final terms of the AIB loan and agreed he had not read that final loan facility letter in its entirety.

Michael Cush SC, for Matheson Ormsby Prentice, asked if Mr Sulaiman did not appreciate the final terms of the loan involved a full recourse facility to all the borrowers?

Mr Sulaiman said he did not appreciate that because he understood from his conversation with Mr McLoughlin it was to be a non-recourse loan.

He agreed he was aware LK Shields was making the case in this action the loan was clearly a full recourse facility and was contending the Lynchs should have appreciated that and did appreciate that.

Mr Cush suggested it must follow Mr Sulaiman, as a solicitor with LK Shields, really ought to have understood it was a full recourse facility. Mr Sulaiman disagreed and repeated he acted on information from MOP which, he said, was acting on behalf of the Lynchs in connection with the financing and conveyancing of the transaction.

He denied suggestions by Mr Cush he had mixed up the concepts of recourse and security both in the email and in his evidence yesterday to the court. Mr Sulaiman also denied he was responsible for a series of failures in dealing with matters on February 7 and 8, 2007 relating to the Waterford transaction.

Later yesterday, cross-examined by Brian O’Moore SC, for the Lynchs, Mr Moore suggested a number of contacts made by Mr Sulaiman on February 7 and 8 rendered “incredible” his assertion he was dealing only with a co-ownership agreement concerning the Waterford lands transaction and not dealing, on behalf of the Lynchs, with the financing aspects of the transaction.

Mr Sulaiman agreed he had contacted AIB, but said that was limited to the co-ownership agreement.

He also agreed he was in contact with the Lynch side and had forwarded to them the final loan facility letter.

He reiterated he understood MOP was dealing with the financing aspects.

Mr O’Moore will continue his cross-examination today.

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