Woman cannot reduce her asset value

The Court of Appeal has continued orders preventing a Galway-based woman from reducing the value of her assets until her appeal against a ruling that she must pay one sixth of a €3.3m lotto win to her stepson has been determined.

Woman cannot reduce her asset value

Last month, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ruled that Mary Walsh, aged 66, must pay the money to her stepson, David Walsh, plus his legal costs after finding he was part owner of and entitled to a one-sixth share of a winning ticket purchased in 2011.

She has appealed that decision, citing more than 30 grounds why the judgment in her stepson’s favour should be overturned. The appeal, which stands adjourned, is opposed.

As part of her appeal, Ms Walsh sought to set aside orders, made by Mr Justice Humphreys following his judgment, preventing her from reducing her assets below €929,000.

That order was made to cover the award made in Mr Walsh’s favour plus his legal expenses.

She also asked the appeals court to place a stay on the High Court’s judgment pending the outcome of her appeal.

Lawyers for Mr Walsh opposed the stay, and argued the freezing orders should remain undisturbed.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal, comprised of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, Mr Justice Michael Peart, and Ms Justice Mary Irvine, said it was satisfied Ms Walsh had made out “arguable grounds of appeal” allowing it to place an “unconditional stay” on the judgment until the appeal has been determined.

Mr Walsh’s lawyers have registered a judgment mortgage against Ms Walsh’s home and secured certain orders against life insurance policies belonging to Ms Walsh worth €141,000, the court heard.

“No further steps” are to be taken in relation to those assets until the appeal has been determined, said Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan.

She said the High Court was entitled to make freezing orders against Ms Walsh preventing her from reducing her assets below a certain level.

However, the court said it was varying the value of the assets that must remain frozen from €929,000 to €864,000.

The High Court, in arriving at the €929,000 figure, had taken into account a sum of €65,000 to cover potential legal costs to process an appeal. It was not entitled to do this, the appeals court found.

Opposing the applications, Dervla Brown, for Mr Walsh, said she had only accounted for over €950,000 of the €3.3m win. Several transactions have not been explained, it was claimed.

Ms Brown also expressed concern about a five-figure transaction Ms Walsh had permitted to be made on her behalf following the judgment and freezing order.

In his action, Mr Walsh, aged 52, of Knocknagreena, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, sued his stepmother, Ms Walsh, from Perrsepark, Ballinasloe, and argued he was entitled to his share on the grounds his signature was among six that were written on the back of the winning ticket.

Ms Walsh denied this and says the wining ticket is hers. She claimed Mr Walsh was offered and accepted her and her late husband’s house in lieu of €200,000 from the win.

Mr Walsh, who claimed he was promised a share of the money by his late father, rejected that.

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