Wednesday 21 February 2018

IBRC wins court fight over Camden Market loss

The company that formerly owned the market, Camden Market Holdings Corp, had sued Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in October 2013, claiming breach of contract. Stock image
The company that formerly owned the market, Camden Market Holdings Corp, had sued Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in October 2013, claiming breach of contract. Stock image
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, has emerged victorious in a legal feud between the bank and the high-profile former owners of the landmark Camden Market in London, who had claimed losses of £19m (€22m) they wanted the bank to be held liable for.

The company formerly behind the market, which was backed by investors including Israeli billionaire Bebo Kobo, had sought damages for breach of contract against IBRC, linked to a £195m (€230m) loan provided by the bank to purchase and develop properties at the market in north London - a major tourist attraction.

But the Court of Appeal in London has ruled that the claim made by the former owners has no chance of succeeding and granted summary judgment in favour of IBRC.

The market, which attracts about 40 million visitors a year, was sold in 2014, after the legal action was launched, to Israeli billionaire and Playtech founder Teddy Sagi, for £400m (€469m).

The company that formerly owned the market, Camden Market Holdings Corp, had sued Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in October 2013, claiming breach of contract.

Earlier that year, IBRC was instructed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, to sell off its loan book after he moved to suddenly liquidate the bank after a deal was sealed with the European Central Bank on Anglo's debt.

Anglo Irish Bank had provided the then market owners with a £195m loan in 2005 to purchase and develop properties at Camden Market.

The individuals behind the firm that bought it included Mr Kobo, who is heavily involved in property investments, as well as Richard Caring, the businessman and restaurateur whose portfolio includes The Ivy, the famous London celebrity haunt. The other investor was London property firm Chelsfield Partners.

Anglo loans, including a loan made to the Camden Market group, were among those marketed for sale by the bank, beginning in 2013.

The company and related firms that owned the market took legal action against IBRC to try and halt its loans being marketed for sale, relying on a facilities agreement that IBRC should not to anything to hinder the market owner's own marketing of the properties they were developing.

The former owners claimed their losses amount to £19m in respect of the costs of refinancing their Anglo loan, the difference between the market value of the properties on which, but for the alleged breach of contract, they would have been sold for under an agreed exit strategy, and other "wasted costs".

The claim against IBRC was based on an alleged implied term in an agreement with the bank dated in November, 2012. In 2014, the bank applied for summary judgment or to strike out the claim, insisting the claim had no real prospects of success.

But in 2015, a judgment was handed down by London's High Court that deemed the dispute should go to trial.

IBRC then appealed that ruling, giving rise to the summary judgment it has been awarded.

"I have concluded that the Camden Market group's case is bad in law, and the group has no real prospects of succeeding on it," said Lord Justice Beaton, one of the judges hearing the appeal by IBRC. "Accordingly, I would allow the appeal and enter summary judgment for IBRC."

The other two judges hearing the appeal agreed. The liquidators of IBRC made an initial payment to the bank's unsecured creditors late last year.

Those payments included €275m that was paid to the State.

Irish Independent

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