A receiver appointed over the lands of a Limerick family who allegedly owe more than €1.5m in bank loans has gone to court in a bid to get access to their farm.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern today admitted the case involving a 187-acre, family farm in Limerick to the big business division of the High Court.
Farm owners Frank Burke and Oonagh Burke of Donoman, Croom, Co Limerick today opposed the admission of the case to the Commercial Court and argued the case should be heard by the Circuit Court.
The third defendant in the case is a worker on the Limerick farm, Dean Boddy, also of Donoman, Croom, Co Limerick.
The receiver Marcus Purcell of Ernst & Young is seeking a declaration he stands validly appointed as receiver over the Burke lands and he also seeks an order restraining the Burkes from preventing, impeding or obstructing him from taking possession of the property.
In a grounding affidavit receiver Marcus Purcell said in 2013, Ulster Bank extended two loan facilities to the Burkes totalling €1.49m so they could expand their farming business by acquiring new agricultural land and purchasing a residential investment property.
The monies advanced were secured by mortgages on the Burke's property.
Promontoria Aran Ltd acquired the bank's rights title and interest in the Burke's loan facilities in February 2015 and in October of that year demanded repayment of what was then an outstanding €1.58m.
Mr Purcell who was appointed receiver over the Burke lands in February 2016 said the farm worker Dean Boddy was named in the proceedings as Mr Boddy who lives on an investment property on the lands had been asked to give up vacant possession, but he allegedly failed to confirm in writing he would do so.
The Burke lands, he said, are estimated to have a value of about €1.6m. Mr Purcell said there were a number of engagements with the Burkes' financial advisor and at one stage Mr Purcell decided not to institute legal proceedings in relation to the lands as Oonagh Burke was ill and due to have an operation.
Mr Purcell said he requested through the Burkes' solicitor that the Burkes give up vacant possession of the land in May and June 2017, and court proceedings were started last September.
Mr Purcell said the continuing refusal to provide him with vacant possesion of the land is preventing him from performing his functions as a receiver.
He said he was very anxious the proceedings are heard and determined by the court as soon as possible so that he can proceed to sell the lands and realise the security.
In response to an affidavit from Mr Frank Burke, in which he stated he was seeking to restructure his finance and meet his obligations, Mr Purcell said a stay of nine months was offered providing there was consent to the admission of the case to the Commerical Court list, but this was refused by the other side.
The case will come back before the court in April next year.