O’Donnells liable for legal costs

Retired solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife Dr Mary Patricia are personally liable for the legal costs of their failed bid to have their bankruptcy annulled, the High Court ruled.

It means the costs cannot be drawn from the assets of their bankrupt estate but they themselves will have to bear the bill for their application which Bank of Ireland (BoI) opposed. Mr O’Donnell represented himself and his wife during the annulment application.

Last month, Ms Justice Caroline Costello found that the O’Donnells had not advanced any new evidence as a basis for an annulment of the 2013 bankruptcy obtained against them by BoI which is owed €71.5m.

Far from there being compelling reasons to annul the bankruptcy, “no grounds had been advanced” by the O’Donnells which led her to the conclusion that they ought not have been adjudicated bankrupt, she said.

The costs issue and related orders were back before Ms Justice Costello yesterday, when there was no appearance by or on behalf of the O’Donnells.

The judge said she would have to deal with these matters and after hearing submissions from Mark Sanfey SC, for BoI, that the bankrupt estate should not have to bear the costs of the failed annulment application, she agreed the O’Donnells should be made personally liable.

Mr Sanfey said if the costs were to be charged against the bankrupt estate, it “would be a charter for bankrupts to make vexatious applications knowing they would not get costs orders against them”.

 

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