Judge 'invites' Anglo to sue Quinns for contempt
ANGLO Irish Bank may sue the Quinn family for contempt of court after a High Court judge suggested that course of action as a "way of dealing with" things if the Quinns are unlawfully reducing Anglo's claim on a €500m property empire.
The comment from Mr Justice Frank Clarke came as he refused to let Anglo file an affidavit alleging that the Quinn family had breached an interim injunction which bans them from reducing the value of their international property assets.
Earlier, the Quinns' senior counsel, Bill Shipsey, had demanded that Anglo either "put up or shut up" in relation to the alleged infringements of the injunction, rather than repeatedly referring to them in open court.
In refusing to admit the affidavit, Mr Justice Clarke said it seemed to him that if orders of the court had been breached, "there's a way of dealing with that -- by bringing an application for contempt".
Earlier, Anglo's senior counsel, Shane Murphy, had told the court that "significant and very serious issues have developed" since Anglo first moved to stop the Quinns reducing the bank's claim on their international property empire.
The allegations were contained in an affidavit signed by Anglo executive Richard Woodhouse and delivered to the Quinns' counsel on Sunday. Further details cannot be reported as the relevant affidavit has not been opened in court.
The bank last night declined to comment on whether it would consider pursuing the Quinns for contempt.
Mr Justice Clarke said he was not permanently excluding the affidavit but that he wanted more time to consider its content and give the Quinns adequate time to respond.
"It's important to be vigilant to ensure that parties are not unfairly treated," he said, pointing out that press reports would only show Anglo's version if the affidavit was opened before the Quinns had a chance to reply.
He had earlier denied a request from the Quinns' lawyers that this week's hearing be suspended until the court has decided whether the case falls under the jurisdiction of Ireland or Cyprus.
Arguments on jurisdiction took up all day Monday and several hours yesterday, with the Quinns arguing for Cyprus and Anglo pushing for Ireland.
The judge will now give his verdict on both the jurisdiction issue and the case concur- rently.
Interim orders, banning the removal of any assets from the international property group, remain in place.
Anglo said it was "very anxious" that the hearing should go ahead and that the interim orders remain unchanged. The Quinns had pushed for modifications to the interim orders but said they could "live with it" if the existing orders stayed.
Yesterday's hearing gave further insight into the Quinns' response to Anglo's allegations that the family had been changing the structure of companies to reduce the bank's claim on international property assets.
Mr Murphy told the court that the Quinns had not "seriously challenged" the bank's claim that actions to this effect have taken place.
Anglo took security over the international property group after it loaned Sean Quinn some €2.3bn to buy shares in the bank. The Quinn family claim that this breached company law.