A HIGH Court judge has urged a father and son being pursued for around €5.2m over alleged unpaid taxes to "engage sensibly" with the Revenue Commissioners.
Sensible engagement is something Annino Forte and his son Corrado, both businessmen and with addresses in Co Wexford, "have not done to this time", Mr Justice Max Barrett said.
They had approached their dealings with Revenue "in a manner that has been less than dispassionate, at times imprudent, and not always polite".
The assessment notices were issued after a Revenue audit in which the Fortes chose not to participate, he said.
They had not appealed to the Appeals Commissioners against the notices because they mistakenly assumed, when it came to being sued by Revenue over the alleged liabilities, they could dispute those liabilities in court.
Rightly or wrongly, both insist they do not owe the entirety of the "vast sums" for which the Revenue now wants final judgment, he said.
It wanted summary judgment orders for €2.7m against Annino Forte, and for €2.5m against Corrado Forte.
As a result of not appealing to the Appeals Commissioners, the assessments had become, in law, final and conclusive, the judge said.
His concern was the court was now effectively being asked to give summary judgment for estimated sums, the accuracy of which has never been tested, yet against which no defence can be raised.
If he was to grant the Revenue application at this time, he was concerned the court would make an order "that is not reflective of reality and which would potentially effect a greater injustice".
In all the circumstances, the judge said he was adjourning the Revenue application and stressed "sensible engagement" was a condition of that.
The adjournment was to see if Revenue would take account of the "genuine confusion" of the Fortes and possibly allow a fresh consideration of their affairs, fresh audit or other options, he said.