Friday 23 March 2018

IL&P bailout hearing delayed as judge considers party status

Laura Noonan and Tim Healy

THE substantive issues in legal challenge to the €2.7bn bailout of Irish Life & Permanent won't be heard until later this week after a High Court judge yesterday said he would first consider whether one of the plaintiffs had standing with the court.

Opening arguments in the case brought by disgruntled IL&P shareholders were expected to be heard yesterday, but Mr Justice Kevin Feeney instead agreed to a request from the Department of Finance lawyers that he first consider the status of one plaintiff.

Piotr Skoczylas, who heads up Maltese hedge fund Scotchstone, appeared in a packed Court 14 yesterday on behalf of the fund in order to represent his firm. But lawyers appearing for the Finance Minister claimed in court that Mr Skoczylas was not entitled to represent a company since he was not a solicitor and had not been called to the bar.

Mr Skoczylas argued that he should be allowed to appear since his firm could not afford to pay "very high legal costs", adding that he should not be denied the opportunity to pursue his claim since it was amongst the most important legal challenges in the history of the State.

Arguments on that topic are expected to continue this morning, before the court tomorrow moves on to hearing the shareholders' substantive challenge to the "unlawful" nature of the bailout that effectively nationalised their institution.

Mr Skoczylas was joined at yesterday's proceedings by two other "lay shareholders", Gerard Dowling and Padraig McManus, while another fund, Horizon NV, is also challenging the bailout. At one point, hundreds of IL&P shareholders were expected to take part in a legal challenge.

Irish Independent

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