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Sunday 23 April 2017

McNamara makes last-gasp bid to stave off €62.5m judgment

Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

ONE of the country's biggest property developers will today make a final attempt to stave off a €62.5m court judgment over money he owes to private investors.

Bernard McNamara faces a 2pm High Court deadline today that could trigger a raft of fresh claims by creditors.

Mr McNamara, who has admitted he could not pay the cash owed to private clients of Davy stockbrokers over the €412m purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle Site in Dublin, has fought for weeks to have registration of the court judgment postponed.

But the Irish Independent has learned that an out-of-court settlement was "unlikely" before today's 2pm deadline when High Court Judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly would rule whether to postpone registration of the massive debt.

The entering of the judgment against the Clare-born former Fianna Fail councillor, who says that all the equity in his personal assets has been used to shore up his businesses, could expose him to a variety of debt claims by creditors up to and including bankruptcy.

Yesterday morning, Commercial Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed to a request by Mr McNamara's lawyers to defer for 24 hours his ruling on whether to grant a postponement on registration of the judgment.

The summary judgment order, the largest personal guarantee action to come before the Irish courts, was declared but not formally registered last December following a ruling in investors' favour.

The judge was set to rule yesterday afternoon on an application by Mr McNamara for a stay pending the outcome of a planned Supreme Court appeal.

But he agreed to defer that ruling until today to allow talks to take place between Mr McNamara and the investors, who are suing through Ringsend Property Limited (RPL), a Jersey-registered company.

Last night, Greg Connell, director of debt-monitoring agency Business Pro, said that the mere threat of a court judgment could act as "leverage" to get a debtor to reach an agreement because of the enforcement options that accrued once a judgment was registered.

Leverage

"It is the cheapest form of leverage you can get," Mr Connell said.

"If the judgment involves a personal guarantee, it places the individual involved under more pressure and can lead to the pursuit of personal assets."

Yesterday, counsel for RPL said it was Mr McNamara's side that was seeking time.

The investors -- who include businessmen Lochlann Quinn and Martin Naughton -- agreed to the 24-hour reprieve.

The court heard on Monday that Mr McNamara -- whose businesses employ over 1,100 people -- had conceded he had"no unencumbered assets".

He had offered to pay some €100,000 per month off the debts, which was described in court as "paltry", given the amount owed.

The court was also told that Mr McNamara, whose wealth had once been worth €1bn, was no longer a person of significant net worth and his position was getting worse every day.

Irish Independent

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