Courts

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Sean Dunne 'not lived in Ireland since 2007' court hears

Settled in US after periods in Paris, Geneva and London

Published 07/11/2013 | 11:53

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Sean Dunne
Sean Dunne

BANKRUPT developer Sean Dunne has not lived in Ireland since January 2007, living in Paris, Geneva and London before settling in the United States, the High Court has heard.

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The High Court is today hearing a legal action by Mr Dunne who wants to overturn a court decision to declare him a bankrupt in Ireland.

This morning High Court judge Mr Justice Brian McGovern  heard that Mr Dunne, who was adjudicated a bankrupt in Ireland on July 29 last, is opposing the bankruptcy on three principal grounds.

Mr Dunne, who was not present in court on July 29 when the bankruptcy order was made, is already a bankrupt in the United States of America.

The Carlow born businessman is not present in court for the litigation which is expected to last for two days.

Ulster Bank are opposing the bid by Mr Dunne to overturn the Irish bankruptcy order.

Judge McGovern heard that there are no assets available to the Official Assignee, a court official who manages the estate of bankrupts in Ireland, because Mr Dunne is already a bankrupt in the US.

Senior Counsel Bill Shipsey, for Mr Dunne, said that when Mr Dunne was made bankrupt in the US last March, an automatic worldwide stay was placed on in all proceedings taken against him.

Mr Shipsey said Mr Dunne is and was living in the US from August 2010.

The High Court heard that prior to August 2010, Mr Dunne, his wife and family been living first in Paris - and then Geneva and London - and were not domiciled in Ireland since January 2007.

Mr Shipsey  said that Mr Dunne does not have a residence "within the ordinary meaning of residence"  in Ireland for at least three years.

Mr Dunne had not, in the three year period prior to adjudication been carrying on business for profit or gain, said Mr Shipsey who also questioned whether Mr Dunne was validly served with a bankruptcy petition on February 12, 2013.

Last July's declaration of bankruptcy here formed part of parallel applications to have Mr Dunne adjudicated a bankrupt in both America and Ireland.

Mr Dunne, now living in the US, had filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts.

He claims to have debts of some €1bn and assets of€55m.

Following an application by Ulster Bank, supported by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), the US court appointed trustee managing Mr Dunne's US bankruptcy ruled parallel proceedings would benefit Mr Dunne's creditors as the vast majority of his properties are in Ireland.

Mr Dunne examined  in a court hearing in Connecticut on June 19 and July 10 last, but Mr Shipsey said there was "no attempt" by Ulster Bank at either hearing to serve the developer with the Irish bankruptcy petition on those occasions.

Mr Shipsey said that on July 18 2013, two packages were delivered to an address in Connecticut which, the lawyer said, Ulster Bank knew was no longer Mr Dunne's residential address.

That package can not constitute service of a petition when the letter made reference to a hearing date which has already passed, said Mr Shipsey.

The case continues.

By Dearbhail  McDonald, Legal Editor

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