Wednesday 24 May 2017

Jackie Lavin sues long-term partner Bill Cullen over €1m property in Kerry that she considers her home

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen pictured together in 2010. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen pictured together in 2010. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Aodhan O Faolain

Jackie Lavin is suing her long-time partner, Bill Cullen, and one of his companies which is in receivership, over an alleged failure to complete a €1m property sale.

Ms Lavin has brought proceedings against Glencullen Properties, which is in receivership, and Mr Cullen (75). The high profile businessman and former star of TV3's 'The Apprentice is the firm's sole shareholder and a director.

The case concerns the sale of Killegy House in Muckross, Co Kerry, to Ms Lavin, the High Court heard.

The couple have long had business interests in the Kingdom, and they previously owned the Muckross Park hotel in Killarney.

Mr Cullen and Ms Lavin lost a separate High Court bid to continue running the hotel in 2013. Speaking at the time, they said they were devastated at the loss of the business.

Yesterday, the High Court was told that Ulster Bank appointed Kavanagh Fennell as receivers over Glencullen Properties' assets, including Killegy House, in 2012.

Ms Lavin claims she has been a longtime resident of Killegy House which she considers to be her home. Speaking in 2014, Ms Lavin vowed to battle to keep hold of the property and insisted she would not be "bullied' out of Killegy House.

Ulster Bank created a charge over Glencullen's assets in 1999, including Killegy House.

Ms Lavin claims that in 2009 the company sought additional credit facilities from Ulster Bank to allow it continue to trade during the downturn.

She claims the bank was unwilling to do this unless €1m was invested in the company. Following the sale of a property they had in Florida for US$7.25m, Ms Lavin said she agreed to advance Mr Cullen €1m. This was so he could pay down Glencullen's liabilities. As part of the arrangement, Killegy House would be sold to her, she said. She paid over €757,000 to the company but it has failed to complete the sale of the property to her, she claims.

She also claims she has suffered loss and damage. After the company was placed in receivership, an order was obtained from the Residential Tenancies Board requiring her to leave Killegy House. In her action, she seeks an order for the specific performance directing the sale of Killegy House to her.

She also seeks an order prohibiting the defendants from entering into any contract for sale of the property other than with Ms Lavin.

Glencullen Properties denies the claims and argues that she is not entitled to any of the orders she seeks. The court heard that Mr Cullen has not delivered a defence to the action.

In its defence, the company says it accepts Ms Lavin agreed to advance Mr Cullen €1m so he could loan Glencullen funds to reduce its liabilities.

However, the company denies the monies were advanced as part of an agreement to sell Killegy to Ms Lavin. The company said it never agreed to sell the premises to her for any sum nor is there any contract of sale between the parties.

Failed

It also said Ms Lavin has failed to comply with the order it obtained requiring her to leave Killegy and it has brought enforcement proceedings before the Circuit Court. It further submits that after advancing the loan to Mr Cullen in late 2010, Ms Lavin signed a statutory declaration that she did not hold any interest right or title to any assets of Glencullen.

The company accepts that, by an oversight, Killegy House was not listed in the documentation the declaration refers to property of Glencullen which includes the premises. Ms Lavin accepts she signed a waiver but did so because, if she didn't, the bank would cut Glencullen off from access to further credit.

The case was mentioned before Mr Justice Tony O'Connor yesterday. The case was adjourned and will be mentioned before the court at the end of April.

Irish Independent

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