Sunday 15 December 2019

Stakes may be high but courtroom sizzle was barely audible


Laura Noonan

THE opening salvo of the legal showdown between Anglo Irish Bank and the family of Sean Quinn didn't attract many casual onlookers when it finally kicked off yesterday.

It's probably just as well, because anyone looking for high drama, or even an insight into the battle between the bank and Ireland's one-time richest man, would have been sorely disappointed.

The stakes might be dizzyingly high -- the Quinns owe Anglo €2.8bn and are protesting about the way the bank is trying to get its money back -- but at the end of the day, once an argument turns legal, it turns legal. And yesterday was definitely one for the legal eagles.

For more than five hours, lawyers for both side squared off on the issue of whether the courts in Ireland or Cyprus should be allowed to decide the row. Repetition was the order of the day; no point was too insignificant not to be made at least twice.

By the end of it, we did know a few new things, thank God.

We know the Quinns are arguing that the case should be held in Cyprus because the Cyprus case was lodged first, the Cyprus courts have "exclusive jurisdiction" and laws there allow for the Irish case and the Cyprus one to be "consolidated".

We know Anglo believes the two cases are different, so it doesn't matter which one was lodged first. And we know Anglo is rejecting the "exclusive jurisdiction" argument.

What we won't know for some time, is what Mr Justice Frank Clarke makes of it all. So this morning both sides will tell the judge whether they're prepared for this week's hearing to go ahead while the jurisdiction issue is still outstanding.

If they agree to that, then we'll finally get down to some actual business and the court can start dealing with the fairly sexy issues at the heart of the case. Once that kicks off, it might well be worth popping down with a flask and a few sandwiches.

Irish Independent

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