Saturday 16 November 2019

Bank of Ireland set to sue estate agents over property deals that went wrong

Roisin Burke

Bank of Ireland is going after property valuers in an attempt to claw back money on loan bets it got horribly wrong in the boom.

The bank – which has been focusing mainly on Britain for now but is likely to make aggressive moves here soon – has been taking action worth millions against big property firm names including Colliers and DTZ.

A wave of valuer-negligence litigation is expected here as Irish banks move to act before the legal window to sue runs out. "We have seen an increasing trend of lender banks investigating claims against valuers as they seek recovery on borrowings," Eversheds litigation partner Norman Fitzgerald said.

"We have received quite a few inquiries and a few matters are pending. Given that the peak of property boom activity was in or around 2006/2007, banks are aware that there is a time urgency in beginning these claims."

Bank of Ireland has acted against at least seven high-profile British agents, with several cases being defended in the High Court.

It is believed to have sought €2m from DTZ related to a Swindon development and plans to sue Colliers International over alleged negligence in valuations in 2006.

Cluttons is defending a claim for €1.2m related to a Belgravia apartment that the bank says was up to 75 per cent overvalued.

It has sought €1.4m against Lambert Smith Hampton in relation to an alleged overvaluation on a development in the Leeds area.

Edward Symmons is believed to have been pursued following a €5m loss on a business park in Cheshire.

Bank of Ireland didn't respond to repeated requests for comment on Friday.

The downturn and economic crisis has led to a swathe of legal actions involving the banks. Last week's dramatic liquidation of Anglo Irish Bank as part of the EU bank debt deal has placed a question mark over the future of some of these cases. A number of large potential overcharging cases are hanging in limbo until a test case appears in front of the courts.

Irish Independent

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