Dr Mary Pat O’Donnell, wife of retired solicitor Brian O’Donnell, is entitled to argue she has a right of residence at Gorse Hill in Killiney, Co Dublin, which the family was ordered to vacate, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell said she was entitled to contest an injunction preventing the couple from trespassing on Gorse Hill or interfering with a receiver’s right to dispose of the property to help meet the O’Donnell’s €71m Bank of Ireland debt.
She was entitled to do so on the basis of an argument put forward on her behalf by her husband that she had a right of residence in the house, he said. This arose out of the couple’s claim that the Family Home Protection Act guarantees property entitlements to spouses.
The O’Donnells had contested the trespass injunction sought by the Bank of Ireland receiver and lost in the High Court.
Mr Justice O’Donnell found their claim that the bankruptcy official should not have intervened in the trespass proceedings was misconceived.
However, he found that because the bank sought injunctions restraining the O’Donnells personally, and not the bankruptcy official, from trespassing, the O’Donnells must remain a party to the proceedings for court orders to be effective.
Mr Justice O’Donnell said given the Family Home Protection Act, which he said is an unusual provision designed to provide protection to spouses, it cannot be said this is a property right which vests in the bankruptcy official on adjudication of bankruptcy.
He affirmed the decision of the High Court in dismissing claims in relation to invalidity of the original judgment against the O’Donnells and their claims for fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation because the right to argue them only belongs to the bankruptcy official.
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