herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

I'm a British citizen, McFeely tells court

ROGUE developer and former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely has claimed he is a British citizen in an effort to escape being declared bankrupt in Ireland.

The developer of the Priory Hall fire-trap also called Ireland a "foreign jurisdiction".

He told the court: "I maintain this is a breach of my human rights and that it is objectionable to expose me as a British citizen to the punitive bank laws of another country."

McFeely had his UK bankruptcy overturned in a London court yesterday after a Dublin woman who bought a flawed house from him challenged it in court.

Theresa McGuinness, of Rush, Co Dublin, applied to the High Court here last autumn to have McFeely declared bankrupt following his failure to pay an award made to her in 2009 against his company, Coalport Ltd.

She was awarded €103,000 in damages against Coalport after it emerged that a house she had bought had serious structural defects.

She has also claimed she is owed an additional €200,000 in costs arising from her 2009 court action.

But McFeely went to the UK in January and filed for bankruptcy there under the UK's more lenient system.

Ms McGuinness then sought to have his UK bankruptcy overturned.



shopping

The decision to rescind the bankruptcy came after a judge said McFeely appeared to be "forum shopping" for where he would file for bankruptcy.

The British system of bankruptcy is seen as having less penalties than in Ireland.

Judge Sandra Proudman yesterday rescinded the bankruptcy order -- meaning it will be put before a deciding registrar again -- on the basis that McFeely had not declared that he was involved in bankruptcy proceedings in Ireland when he applied for them in the UK.

The decision now leaves McFeely in a legal minefield.

His UK bankruptcy is to be put back before a registrar in the UK High Court, while the High Court in Dublin is expected to hear the next part of Therese McGuinness' action on July 23.

The builder, who has a home address of Stratford in east London, said in a witness statement to the court that he is a British citizen and has been working exclusively in the UK since September 2009.

He said the last work he did in Ireland was the completion of a block of apartments in Dundalk in 2008.

McFeely claimed that, "as a British citizen", he objected to being forced into bankruptcy in a foreign jurisdiction.

Dublin North East Senator Averil Power was today heavily critical of NAMA following the decision in the London court, saying it was "crazy that NAMA stood back and left it to a private citizen to challenge Thomas McFeely's UK bankruptcy."



message

"NAMA should have pursued McFeely with the same vigour that a private creditor would," she said.

"It (NAMA) should have sent out a clear message that it will not tolerate developers using bankruptcy tourism to avoid Irish penalties.

"Under the more lenient UK system, McFeely could have emerged from bankruptcy in just 12 months.

"By not challenging the original UK bankruptcy award, NAMA failed to vindicate the interests of the Irish people as a whole."

cfeehan@herald.ie

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