Business Irish

Monday 20 November 2017

IL&P investor not allowed to represent own firm in bailout court battle

Tim Healy

AN investor whose company bought €200,000 worth of Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) shares in 2010 is not legally entitled to represent the firm in a court challenge to the Government's €2.7bn recapitalisation of the bank, a judge ruled yesterday.

Piotr Skoczylas, the controlling shareholder of Maltese-registered Scotchstone Capital Funds Ltd, indicated yesterday he may appeal High Court Judge Kevin Feeney's ruling to the Supreme Court.

In those circumstances, the hearing of preliminary issues in the challenge by Mr Skocyzlas and others to the recapitalisation was adjourned to today.

Scotchstone, Mr Skocyzlas, two IL&P shareholders Gerard Dowling and Padraig McManus and, in separate proceedings, an investment fund, Horizon Growth NV, are all challenging the recapitalisation on grounds including that it unlawfully imposes an unacceptable €2.7bn burden on taxpayers.

Yesterday, the judge rejected Mr Skoczylas's application to be permitted to represent Scotchstone in the case.

Costs

Mr Skocyzlas had argued the company did not have the necessary funds to hire lawyers as the costs being sought were "enormous". One law firm indicated representation costs would amount to some €850,000, plus VAT, and it would cost about €35,000 just to file two legal documents, he said.

He said the minister's side "know about costs" as the minister's solicitors, Arthur Cox, had been paid fees of about €15m relating to advice on the financial crisis.

Ruling on the issue, Mr Justice Feeney said he was bound by a Supreme Court decision of 1968 (the Battle case), which found a limited company could not be represented in court proceedings by an officer of that company. If the case proceeds today, the next matter to be addressed is an application by the lay shareholders and Scotchstone to dismiss, on grounds including irrationality.

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