herald

Monday 11 December 2017

O'Donnells go bust over €71.5m debt

COURT: Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell
COURT: Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell

SOLICITOR Brian O'Donnell and his wife have been adjudicated bankrupt by the High Court.

Bank of Ireland had applied to have the couple declared bankrupt after they failed to satisfy a judgment for €71.57m obtained against them. The judgment was obtained by BOI in December 2011 after they failed to repay loans to the bank.

ENGLAND

Mr O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia, who had extensive property interests in Ireland and overseas, opposed BOI's application on grounds including that Ireland is not their main centre of interest.

In his ruling ,Mr Justice Peter Charleton adjudicated the O'Donnells as bankrupt after finding their centre of main interest is Ireland, and not England as they had claimed.

The judge said from the evidence it was "impossible not to find" the O'Donnells' main centre of interest "was in Ireland."

The couple were not present in court for the ruling.

In March 2012 they applied to the English courts to be adjudicated as bankrupts, saying that. their centre of main interest was England, where the have lived since late 2011 and where they had property interests.

BOI opposed the O'Donnells' application to the English courts, and initiated proceedings to have the couple adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland.

Bankruptcy petitions were formerly presented by BOI in respect of Brian O'Donnell on June 1, 2012, and his wife on June 7, 2012.

Those proceedings were adjourned from time to time to allow the UK proceedings run their course. Late last year the English High Court dismissed the O'Donnells' application to be declared bankrupt in that jurisdiction. That decision was upheld on subsequent appeals.

Last July, when the BOI's application opened before Mr Justice Charleton, Mark Sanfey, for the bank, said the English courts had "definitively held" the O'Donnells' centre of main interest "is Ireland and not the UK."

The O'Donnells, in arguing the centre of main interest was the UK, further argued they were not properly served with the petitions, and that the petitions were technically flawed.

DEFECTS

BOI rejected the O'Donnells' claims the petitions were not properly served or technically flawed. BOI said even if the court were to hold the petitions were flawed, any such defects were not fatal to the application to have the O'Donnells adjudicated as bankrupt.

However in a detailed judgment Mr Justice Charleton dismissed the O'Donnells' arguments and said they must be declared bankrupt.

He adjourned making a formal order declaring them bankrupt to next week to allow them to consider his judgement.

hnews@herald.ie

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