Former Miss Ireland Pamela Flood and her restaurateur husband Ronan Ryan may go to prison for failing to quit their €900,000 home after having agreed to hand it back to a bank to which they owed €1.2m.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard in the Circuit Civil Court today that the couple, over the past nine years, had not paid a cent off the mortgage on their Mount Prospect Avenue, Clontarf, home and had then only made a single payment in February last.
The judge granted barrister Rudi Neuman, counsel for Tanager Bank, leave to seek short service of an application to attach and commit both of them to jail for breaching a personal undertaking and court order under which they would be out of the house by last Tuesday, July 9.
Judge Linnane was told today that not only was the couple still in the house but Mr Ryan (aged 48) only days ago had sought and obtained a Protective Certificate under personal insolvency legislation which meant they could not be interfered with by anyone for 70 days.
The judge said it appeared a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) had put papers before Judge Verona Lambe in another court on behalf of Ryan and had obtained the protection of the court.
Judge Linnane said she had now been told that the existence of the re-possession agreement and court order may have been kept from Judge Lambe, information that would undoubtedly have led to her refusing a Protective Certificate.
Mr Neuman, who appeared with Amoss Solicitors, was also granted leave to bring an application before Judge Linnane’s court seeking to set aside the Protective Certificate and allowing the Sheriff go ahead and evict Flood (aged 47) and Ryan. He said the Protective Certificate did not cover Ms Flood who should have left the property on July 9.
Barrister Eoin O’Shea, who initially appeared for both Ryan and Flood, told the court that a settlement agreement had been negotiated with Tanager whereby the couple would leave the property by July 9 and facilitate the bank in preparing to sell it.
Mr O’Shea, who appeared with David M. Turner Solicitors, said another firm of solicitors was now representing the couple. He confirmed to the court that both Ryan and Flood had, in good faith, agreed to hand over the keys to Tanager on the basis the bank would accept whatever proceeds it could achieve in a sale.
The bank had agreed to wipe out the remaining debt owed by Ryan, who had taken out a €1.1m mortgage himself in 2006, and would not ask him to pay any legal costs mounting since 2016. Ms Flood had been joined to the proceedings as a notice party as a result of her marriage to Ryan.
Mr Neuman said the bank had accepted the couple’s proposal that they would leave the house on or before July 9 and had believed there would be a peaceful and agreeable take-over of the property without having to go down the path now facing them.
He said the consent and court order had been made in March last and the bank had given the couple, who have a family of young children, 12 weeks to make alternative accommodation arrangements for themselves.
Judge Linnane said that if the Protective Order, obtained literally at the last minute, was allowed to stand then barristers and solicitors would never be able to reach settlements in such cases in the future and there would be a plethora of applications to block re-possession orders.
The proceedings were adjourned.