Business Irish

Monday 14 October 2019

Farmer loses appeal over losses on property investment

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Tim Healy

A farmer whose €350,000 investment dropped to €152,000 after it failed to perform as expected has lost an appeal over whether he received financial advice before investing.

The High Court upheld the Financial Ombudsman's finding that Val O'Driscoll's complaints were not substantiated.

He claimed the Ombudsman erred in her findings. Mr O'Driscoll invested the €350,000 in the "Broad Street Geared Property Life Fund" managed by Irish Life.

The investment was made through the Mallow Mortgage Company trading as Liam Mullins and Associates.

Prior to the investment in January 2007, a meeting took place between Mr O'Driscoll, Liam Mullins and Donal O'Connell of Irish Life.

The fund was invested in a UK commercial property in Bristol which was leased to a bank at €1m a year.

Irish Life had acquired the property and it was transferred into a life and pension fund. It did not perform as anticipated. The building was sold in 2013 and Mr O'Driscoll received €156,621 in May 2015.

He complained to the Ombudsman who found there was no evidence to show Mallow's representative provided him with any investment advice.

It was provided on an "execution only" basis and the policy documentation clearly highlighted the risks, the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman did not uphold a complaint that Irish Life wrongfully advised Mr O'Driscoll, of Ballinderrig Farm, Ballinderrig, Little Island, Co Cork.

Irish Life did not act in an advisory role or in any way assessed his risk profile with a view to matching that profile to any particular product, the Ombudsman said.

Mr O'Driscoll then appealed those findings to the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Faherty found the Ombudsman findings, in relation to whether it was an execution only investment, were not vitiated by serious or significant error.

She also accepted that, once a box was ticked on the application form to say it was "execution only", the Ombudsman was reasonably entitled to regard it as such a transaction.

Irish Independent

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