Monday 25 September 2017

Art dispute at the centre of €75m case against solicitor

Tim Healy

O'Donnells trying to stop bank assessing contents of Dublin home

A DISPUTE about ownership and value of art, antiques, furniture and other contents of luxury homes in Dublin and London linked to solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his family will come before the Commercial Court next month.

Bank of Ireland, as part of its efforts to enforce a €75m judgment obtained against Mr O'Donnell and his wife over unpaid loans advanced mainly for property investments, will apply next month for continuing orders restraining dissipation of the contents of the O'Donnell family home at Gorse Hill, Killiney, Co Dublin.

The O'Donnells' four children have separately brought an appeal to the Supreme Court disputing the High Court's entitlement to grant an interim order earlier this month allowing solicitors for the bank enter the Gorse Hill property to take an inventory of its contents.

Property

The children -- Blake, Bruce, Blaise and Alexandra -- claim they are the owners of the house under a trust but the bank has disputed this and has indicated it will seek to take possession of the property.

Mr O'Donnell has claimed a company, Vico Barton Ltd, owns the property at Barton Street, London, where he and his wife are now living.

The couple have applied for bankruptcy in the UK and the bank has also disputed their claims that their main interests are in London.

A date for the Supreme Court appeal hearing by Blaise O'Donnell -- which the sides agree will also determine the appeals of her siblings -- has yet to be fixed.

However, lawyers for both sides indicated yesterday to the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, that they were ready to proceed subject to some "housekeeping" matters.

The bank sought the interim order arising from its concerns over some of the evidence given by Mr O'Donnell to the Commercial Court while he was being cross-examined by the bank about his assets and income as part of its efforts to enforce its judgment obtained last November.

The bank said values of between €5m and €7.5m for art and antiques were previously provided to it in statements of assets of Mr O'Donnell and his wife for the years 2005 and 2006 and it was concerned when Mr O'Donnell told the court such values were a mistake and "ludicrous".

In an affidavit since supplied to the bank, Mr O'Donnell says the value of the contents of the Gorse Hill and Barton Street properties is about €150,000.

The dispute was also mentioned yesterday before Mr Justice Peter Kelly who fixed June 7 next for the hearing of the bank's application to continue orders restraining dissipation of the contents. He will also hear the bank's application to fast-track to the Commercial Court its action aimed at securing possession of those contents.

Lawyers for the O'Donnells said they would not challenge the jurisdiction of the courts to deal with the case but indicated there would be opposition to the application for admission of the case to the Commercial Court on grounds of delay.

Irish Independent

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