Mansfield told repay €214m to bank

HOTELIER Jim Mansfield has been ordered to repay €214 million to Bank of Scotland.

The National Assets Management Agency last month obtained a €74m summary judgment order against the businessman.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled yesterday that Mr Mansfield had made out no arguable defence to the bank’s claim and entered summary judgment for €214,122,346, plus costs, in favour of the bank.

Mr Mansfield was not in court. Medical reports have stated he suffers from a number of medical conditions, the most serious being multiple system atrophy.

The application arose from personal guarantees given by Mr Mansfield in relation to loans to three of his companies, HSS, Jeffel and Park Associates Ltd.

Cian Ferriter SC, for the bank, opposed an application by Patrick Leonard, for Mr Mansfield, for a stay on the judgment order.

NAMA had already secured a substantial judgment against Mr Mansfield and the bank’s demands for repayment dated back to July 2010, counsel said. On those and other grounds, the judge refused a stay.

In his reserved judgment, the judge ruled Mr Mansfield had no arguable defence to summary judgment on grounds, including the bank’s failure to honour an alleged 2008 agreement by it to loan more money to complete the Citywest convention centre, which lead to the collapse of the Mansfield Group.

The judge noted there was no legal entity known as the “Mansfield Group”. He found the nature of the alleged agreement to loan sums of between €17m and €20m was so vague it could not give rise to any binding obligation.

There was no specified sum of money involved. It was said to be between €17m and €20m. No terms were set out to address the circumstances whereby the loan would become repayable, the period of the loan was not addressed, the beneficiary was not identified, interest was not mentioned and the issue of security was not addressed.

Those shortcomings were “so many and so serious” as to render the so-called contract devoid of legal effect, the judge said.

The whole foundation of Mr Mansfield’s counterclaim was flawed and on that ground alone the bank was entitled to summary judgment.

Mr Justice Kelly remarked his experience of bank managers “of old” was they had looked for the “three Cs” when considering whether to make loans — capital, collateral and character — to ensure a borrower had funds and could be trusted.

“If they stuck with that, this country might not be in the position it is now,” he said.

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