Thursday 22 March 2018

Insightful NAMA tome poses more complex questions

The National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 -- A Reference Guide

Thomas Molloy

THIS is undoubtedly the most expensive book reviewed in these pages for some time. It is also dry, as legal tomes have to be, and written by a very august group. The authors include the current Attorney General Maire Whelan along with accountant Mark Kennedy and political practitioner and commentator Feargus O Raghallaigh.

Coming in at €350, this is not something most people will be able to afford but the topic is of enormous importance to everybody as the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) casts a massive shadow over almost every aspect of economic and business life.

The book comes with a summary of the events that led to the creation of NAMA along with commentaries on aspects of the legislation and an annotated text of the 2009 act.

Ploughing through parts of the book (full disclosure: your reviewer quickly concluded life is too short and precious to attempt to read the whole thing), it is striking how NAMA was sold to the Dail as a means of restoring credit to the banking system but has instead somehow evolved into a property company.

It is also striking just how complex the legislation is and how much potential there must be for protracted legal trials in the years ahead if NAMA ever gets down to the business of removing assets from developers. The legislation has also suffered numerous defeats at the hands of its critics, but judging by the sheer size of the act, there could well be many more cases.

While most readers will undoubtedly be lawyers, it seems to this reviewer that those who have most to benefit from this book are the developers who now find themselves in NAMA and want to either remove themselves or delay NAMA until they can transfer their assets overseas.

A careful study of such a complex piece of legislation will surely throw up all sorts of delicious delaying tactics and potential legal challenges -- especially as the authors have gone to the trouble of supplying sources such as the text of Dail Eireann and Seanad Eireann debates and the speaking notes of the late Brian Lenihan.

Anybody who really wants to understand NAMA will have to read this book. Anybody who wants to understand why NAMA is so cautious about actually taking any action, need only flick through the book and remind themselves that NAMA is a most unusual response to the crisis and a response that poses almost as many questions as it answers.

It can be purchased on, with free P&P, or by calling 01 4059100

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