Lawlor death: Court asked to rule on debt issue

THE widow of TD Liam Lawlor is to ask the High Court to determine what effect his death has had on legal proceedings in which the Mahon planning tribunal is seeking orders relating to the couple’s home and lands in Lucan, Co Dublin, to satisfy debts of €575,000 in legal costs.

The tribunal initiated proceedings some years ago seeking “well-charging” orders against Mr Lawlor’s family home and lands at Somerton, Finstown, Lucan, valued at €3m-€4m, to satisfy judgments of more than €575,000 secured by it.

The case came before Ms Justice Mary Laffoy via an application by Ms Lawlor to dismiss the case for want of prosecution. There was consent between the sides to have that motion adjourned.

James Dwyer SC, for Ms Lawlor, said there was an issue now as to the effect of the death of Mr Lawlor — in a car crash in Moscow in 2005 — on the proceedings. Ms Lawlor was not a defendant in the case but was a notice party, he noted. Mr Dwyer said the judgments were registered prior to Mr Lawlor’s death.

Ms Justice Laffoy joined Ms Lawlor as a defendant in the case and would grant leave to Mr Dwyer to bring a motion to have a preliminary issue dealt with as to the effect of Mr Lawlor’s death on registration of the judgments. She adjourned generally the motion by Ms Lawlor to have the case dismissed for want of prosecution.

In 2003, the High Court had granted orders permitting the current members of the planning tribunal — Judge Alan Mahon, Judge Mary Faherty and Judge Gerald Keyes — to pursue proceedings initially brought by the former tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Flood, against Mr Lawlor.

The tribunal sought that leave to swear judgment mortgages and to then take “well-charging” proceedings (proceedings aimed at securing a finding that the judgments were well-charged on Mr Lawlor’s property). Mr Lawlor had previously said he did not own the lands in question and had transferred these under a deed of gift to his wife.

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