Monday 29 May 2017

€27m Irish-owned assets at centre of court clash over Candy case costs

Property tycoon Nick Candy with his wife, former ‘Neighbours’ star Holly Valance. Candy is being sued by a former friend
Property tycoon Nick Candy with his wife, former ‘Neighbours’ star Holly Valance. Candy is being sued by a former friend
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Up to €27m of assets controlled by two Irish companies have come into focus in a high-profile £132m (€155m) UK court case being taken by against the Candy brothers by a former friend.

Mark Holyoake is suing the property moguls via a company owned by him in Jersey, called Hotblack, in relation to a soured London development project.

Christian and Nick Candy, and other defendants, made an application for security of costs in the case, amid claims that an Ibiza villa owned by Mr Holyoake via an Irish company is worth almost €19m.

The defendants claimed in a London court that Hotblack would be unable to pay their costs if it was ultimately ordered to do so. The judge has determined that the likely legal costs for the defendants could come to £5.5m (€6.5m) - less than the £8.4m estimated by the defendants themselves.

It was not disputed in court that Hotblack itself did not have sufficient assets to cover such costs.

However, it was debated whether Mr Holyoake, as a co-claimant in the case, would be a so-called 'good mark' for any costs that might arise in favour of the defendants.

Hotblack has already secured a £4m insurance policy it was claimed would be sufficient to cover the defendants' costs.

But the defendants argued that £4m would be too low an amount, and that additional security would be required.

The judge's £5.5m estimate still left a £1.5m shortfall in the security that would have to be provided by Hotblack. It was proposed that Mr Holyoake could provide for that shortfall, based on assets he owns, including property in Ibiza.

Representatives for Mr Holyoake said that his villa in Ibiza is owned by an Irish company called Hollywell. Two plots of land beside it are owned by another Irish firm, Blue Valley. The Irish firms are owned by Mr Holyoake and his wife.

The most recent valuation placed on those assets was €18.8m for the villa, and a total of €8.8m for the two plots of land. But the judge noted that if the villa was sold, ABN might be entitled to proceeds of a sale to recoup debts of €13m attached to the property.

The judge also said that selling the villa quickly enough to meet an order of costs could be problematic, and so declined to accept it as additional cost security.

"I cannot conclude on the material before me that Mr Holyoake's ownership through the Irish companies of the property means that he will be able to meet an order for costs in favour of the defendants within anything like the normal timescale," he said.

He ordered that £5.5m of security be provided in the case by the claimants, and that agreement should be reached by the parties as to how the £1.5m shortfall should be provided for.

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