independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Bar owner waits to see if he'll get full hearing in €29m NAMA case

A JUDGE will give his decision later on whether a businessman is entitled to a full hearing of NAMA's claim for summary judgment against him for €29m over outstanding development loans.

David Cullen, whose property portfolio includes the Turk's Head Bar and Paramount Hotel in Dublin's Temple Bar, is opposing NAMA's application.

Mr Cullen is living in London and has filed for bankruptcy there, where the hearing of that matter is listed for April.

Last month in the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled those bankruptcy proceedings did not deprive the Irish courts of jurisdiction to deal with NAMA's application to recover the €29m.

The loans were advanced by Bank of Ireland from 2002 to Mr Cullen and transferred to NAMA in 2010.

They were issued for several purposes, including development of the Turk's Head and the Paramount, as well as for the Seafield Hotel and apartments in Ballymoney, Co Wexford.

Mr Justice Kelly last month adjourned the summary judgment application by a NAMA company, National Assets Loan Management Ltd (NALM), to yesterday to hear arguments from both sides as to whether Mr Cullen was entitled to a full plenary hearing over the matter.

Mr Cullen's counsel, Martin Hayden, said yesterday they were arguing that NALM was not the correct plaintiff, rather it was NAMA because it was to the agency rather than the company that the loans had been transferred.

While this was "a technical position", they were entitled to argue and if they were successful, the issues of whether his client got the benefit of the loans and was obliged to repay would not then arise, he said.

Mr Hayden said they were also arguing over whether the loans were "eligible loans" within the meaning of the NAMA Act for takeover by NAMA.

Maurice Collins SC, for NALM, said there was a clear and compelling case for summary judgment in a case in which the notable feature was that there appeared to be no dispute that the loans were advanced to Mr Cullen and that the money was due.

Mr Cullen did not challenge the transfer of the loans to NAMA despite having the opportunity and legal advice to do so.

Mr Collins described the "technical position" being adopted by Mr Cullen's side as akin to what were one-time regular technical defences to drink driving cases in the district court. He said the defence was "clutching at the very thinnest of straws".

Mr Justice Kelly yesterday reserved judgment.

Irish Independent

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