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Sunday 27 May 2018

Bids to reclaim farm 'obsessive, hopeless and vexatious' - judge

Mr Justice Michael Twomey
Mr Justice Michael Twomey

Tim Healy

A HIGH Court judge has imposed litigation restrictions on a woman and her non- professional advisor over their involvement in multiple actions that amounted to "an abuse of process upon an abuse of process" concerning a midlands farm.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey made orders against June Smith and William Murphy arising out of what he described as her "obsessive, hopeless and vexatious" litigation in relation to her former farm at Carn, Portarlington, Co Laois, mortgaged to ACC Loan Management

ACC appointed a receiver over the property arising out of a failure to repay a loan of €2m secured on the farm, who subsequently sold the property.

Last July the High Court dismissed Mrs Smith's action against ACC and the receiver contesting their right to sell the property.

Mr Justice Twomey said the action was one of several brought by Mrs Smith regarding the farm since judgment was obtained against her in 2012.

As a result of such cases the High Court made what is known as an 'Isaac Wunder Order' which prevents her taking any further proceedings regarding the farm against ACC and the receiver, without permission from the president of the High Court.

Mr Justice Twomey said despite this order Mrs Smith issued other motions over the sale of the farm, this time against different parties including Ballinline Ltd the company which bought the farm, the State and the Garda Commissioner.

The judge said in September Mrs Smith obtained an injunction, granted by Mr Justice Max Barrett who had no familiarity with the case, to prevent Ballinline from trespassing on the farm.

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Certain facts, including that an injunction had been put in place against her and that Ballinline were the owners of the farm, were not brought to Mr Justice Barrett's attention by Mrs Smith, Mr Justice Twomey said.

He added that he was dismissing Mrs Smith's applications which he said was an abuse of process. Mr Justice Barrett was "clearly misled" and told a "blatant lie" by Mrs Smith, while being assisted by Mr Murphy, to obtain an unjustified injunction.

She also brought proceedings against her former solicitor seeking declaration he had breached his duty as a solicitor because he had acted for the company in the purchase of the farm.

The judge said the allegations against the solicitor were scandalous and unsubstantiated and he struck out her motions against him.

In the circumstances the judge said he was expanding the Isaac Wunder Order. No proceedings could be taken by her against any defendant in relation to the farm without the consent of the president of the High Court, the Judge said.

The judge said he was also disqualifying Mr William Murphy, who had assisted Mrs Smith, from acting as a 'McKenzie friend'. The term refers to a person in court actign as an advisor who is not a solicitor or barrister.

In this case the judge said there could be no doubt the administration of justice was being impeded, and there was an abuse of process occurring with the active assistance of a McKenzie friend.

The Judge said the order means that Mr Murphy, who the judge noted has acted as a McKenzie in other cases and has a "busy practice", cannot provide assistance or advice to any person in relation to court proceedings unless he obtains the consent of the President of the High Court.


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