Friday 28 October 2016

Judge lifts ban on sale of O'Donnell mansion

Brian O’Donnell
Brian O’Donnell

A legal bar on the sale of retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell's former family home should be lifted, the High Court ruled.

Two 'lis pendens' - a notice that there is litigation pending on title to a property - were registered on Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, on March 3 last, just after the adult O'Donnell children had left following a failed lengthy court battle.

The notices were registered by Vico Ltd, the Isle of Man-sole purpose vehicle set up by the O'Donnell family to own the luxury house.

As they place a question mark over ownership, the lis pendens effectively prevented the sale of the house by a receiver Bank of Ireland appointed to recover €71m owed by Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia for unpaid loans advanced to them to buy property.

The bank and receiver asked the court to lift the lis pendens as they were abuse of process and/or frivolous and vexatious and because the issues surrounding Gorse Hill had been fully thrashed out.


The application was opposed by Vico, which the court heard has been in the control of the four O'Donnell children, Alexandra, Blaise, Bruce and Blake, since July 2012.

From then until December 2012, the O'Donnell parents were Vico's directors when it was struck off the Companies Register. It was restored with Bruce and Blake now its current directors.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern ruled the lis pendens had been registered for the "improper purpose of frustration of the bank".

He was satisfied the proceedings constituted an abuse of process and Vico and the O'Donnell children are prevented from maintaining them on the basis that the matters surrounding Gorse Hill have already been fully dealt with.

They were also vexatious and offended clearly established case law, he said.

Mr Justice McGovern also said that during previous proceedings in which the bank and receiver sought to get possession of the house from the O'Donnell children, the claims made in those hearings were the same as those now being put forward by Vico.

There was a "complete correspondence" between the interest of Vico and the O'Donnell children.

The lis pendens proceedings were a "collateral attack on findings of law and fact in both the High Court and Supreme Court", he said.

It was clear these proceedings "are part of a wider co-ordinated campaign by the O'Donnell family" to frustrate the bank and receiver.

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