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Carlow man fails in court bid to get receivers to lease him ‘badly farmed’ family land

Judge expresses sympathy but rules court could not make an order requiring the receivers to grant him a lease

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A man has failed in his bid to obtain High Court orders that would direct receivers to lease to him family lands he claimed were being mismanaged and badly farmed.

Mr Justice Twomey ruled that the High Court does not have jurisdiction to compel a receiver to lease to a borrower (or shareholder in a corporate borrower) a property it has been appointed to, which was provided as security for the borrowings.

Paul McCann and Stephen Tennant were appointed to the assets and undertaking of Dan Morrissey (Irl) Ltd (DMI), a concrete and quarrying company that entered receivership in 2014.

Philip Morrissey, of Milford, Co Carlow, a shareholder in DMI, relied on a section of the Companies Act 2014 in seeking to require the receivers to lease to him for a 10-year period the secured agricultural lands, in Powerstown, Co Carlow.

Mr Morrissey complained that the lands were being mismanaged by the receivers, with crop rotation and other activities not being properly followed. He offered to rent the lands from them for €200/ac, said the judge.

Representing himself in the proceedings, Mr Morrissey argued the lands had been owned by his father and then by DMI, a company in which he had invested considerable sums, the judge noted.

Mr Justice Twomey said it was “difficult not to have sympathy” for Mr Morrissey, whose family has worked for many years on the lands that are now with the receivers due to a loan default.

However, dealing in law, he could not see how the court could make an order requiring the receivers to grant him a lease.

Even if the court found the lands were being mismanaged as alleged, by permitting potatoes to be grown more than one year in four, this does not mean the court has the power to choose Mr Morrissey as the person to farm the lands.

Were the court to do so it would “in effect be implying that there was a right, on the part of a borrower who has defaulted on his loan… to seek to dictate how that receiver manages the assets to pay off secured debts”, Mr Justice Twomey said, dismissing the case.

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