Strike out IL&P action, court told

A number of legal challenges brought against the Government’s recapitalisation of Irish Life & Permanent should be struck out because those taking the actions lack the legal standing to do so, lawyers for the Minister for Finance argued yesterday.

The minister’ s application is one of a number of key preliminary issues in actions before Mr Justice Kevin Feeney at the High Court, involving a number of shareholders in Irish Life & Permanent and others to the Government’s recapitalisation of the bank.

Piotr Skoczylas and his company, Scotchstone Capital, are among a number of litigants challenging the recapitalisation on grounds including it unlawfully imposes an unacceptable €2.7bn burden on Irish and EU taxpayers.

Two IL&P shareholders, Gerard Dowling and Padraig McManus, previously told the court they are supporting Mr Skoczylas while, in separate proceedings, the Curacao-based investment fund Horizon Growth NV is also challenging the recapitalisation, which occurred in July 2011.

Yesterday, the court commenced hearing a motion brought by the minister to set aside both Horizon Growth’s and Mr Skoczylas’ claims on grounds that neither was a member of IL&P when the recapitalisation order was made, and therefore lack the required legal standing to bring the proceedings.

David Barniville, counsel for the minister, said that neither Horizon, who purchased 6m shares in IL&P Group Holdings between Feb and July 2011, nor Mr Skoczylas appeared on the bank’s register of members in Aug 2011 when they brought their challenges against recapitalisation.

At the relevant time, counsel said, both Horizon’s and Mr Skoczylas shares were registered to other entities, who held the shares for the parties’ beneficial ownership.

Counsel submitted that, in order for a party to be considered a member, defined under section 31 of the 1963 Companies Act, their names must appear on the register of members of IL&P Group Holdings. This was not the case in this instance, and as a result their challenges should be set aside, he said.

Both Mr Skoczylas and Horizon tried to have their names included on the register after they brought their challenge to recapitalisation, counsel said.

Mr Skoczylas and Horizon reject the claims, and have argued that they are members of the company. They claim that the manner in which they held the & shares represents a well established norm in international financial investment for many years.

They also claim that the minister’s construction of membership is restrictive, and that the minister is seeking to circumscribe the rights of shareholders.

The hearing continues today when both Horizon Growth and Mr Skoczylas will continue to outline their opposition to the minister’s motion.

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