News Courts

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Restaurateur family Stokes being pursued for €14.5m, court hears

Published 14/07/2014 | 18:15

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Unicorn Restaurant
Unicorn Restaurant

Businessman Jeffrey Stokes, his wife and two sons, are being pursued at the Commercial Court for €14.7m judgment orders arising from various loans and guarantees.

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Dunbar Assets Ireland, formerly Zurich Bank, claims some €14.7m is owed under the "Consolidated Stokes Facility", created following a restructuring in 2011 of various loans advanced from 2007 and from guarantees on loans.

When the case came before Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday, Jeffrey Stokes, Mill House, Enniskerry Road, Kiltiernan, Co Dublin, was represented by Hugh O'Flaherty BL.

His son Simon Stokes, representing himself, asked for time to get a solicitor.

The judge heard the proceedings had not yet been served on Jeffrey Stokes' wife, Pia Bang Stokes, and on the other son, Christian Stokes, who are out of the jurisdiction.

In those circumstances, the judge adjourned Dunbar's application to have its summary judgment application fast-tracked in the Commercial Court to allow it address service issues.  It is also to allow Mr O'Flaherty take instructions from his client and to allow Simon Stokes to instruct lawyers.

Dunbar claims some or all of the defendants and, in relation to one facility, Missford Ltd, a company of the defendants, entered into three different loan facilities with Zurich Bank from 2007.

They were initially secured against various properties, including the Unicorn Restaurant in Dublin; "Mazemore", Torquay Road, Foxrock, Dublin and the leasehold interest in the Residence Club, St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

The facilities included a €9.02m advanced to Jeffrey and Pia Bang Stokes in May 2007 to re-finance borrowings with Bank of Scotland Ireland. That facility was secured over a number of commercial properties and the freehold property of "Mazemore", Dunbar said.

A second facility of May 2007 was entered into with all four defendants for some €3.36m for the purpose of purchasing the "Mazemore" property as a residential investment, Dunbar claims.

This loan was for commercial purposes in the context of a stated intention of the defendants to rent the property for short-term lettings and sub-divide the plot so that, with planning permission, another property could be built, it is claimed.

The third facility was provided to Missford Ltd, a company of Simon and Christian Stokes, in connection with the Residence members club operated by them prior to its being placed in receivership, Dunbar claims.

As part of a restructuring process, Dunbar claims it was agreed in March 2011 to advance or continue a facility in a €14.4m sum, made up of the three facilities as restructured.

The new Consolidated Stokes Facility altered the liability in that it provided Christian and Simon Stokes would become borrowers in relation to the May 2007 loan advanced to their parents while Pia Bang Stokes would become a borrower in relation to the liability previously undertaken by her husband and sons concerning Missford's liabilities.

Dunbar claims the consolidated facility was repayable on demand and by December 31, 2011.

As well as the properties previously provided as security for the facility, additional security was provided via a mortgage and charge over the interests of Jeffrey and Pia Bang Stokes in the "Mill House" property and an assignment of Jeffrey Stokes interest in a company, Vino Classico Ltd, it alleges.

There had been protracted engagement between the sides but, while it had appeared there would be a substantial commercial resolution in early 2014, it no longer believed there was any genuine prospect of engagement between the parties, Dunbar said. Letters of demand were served on June 27 last but no payment was received.

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