Friday 15 December 2017

Judgment against TD Michael Lowry for €650k vacated

TD Michael Lowry
TD Michael Lowry

A JUDGMENT for €650,000 granted last year against independent TD Michael Lowry has been vacated on consent at the High Court pending the outcome of a full hearing of proceedings brought against him by a firm of accountants.

Last November, the Master of the High Court granted judgment for €650,000, plus VAT, and costs, to BBT Chartered Accountants against the North Tipperary TD for fees claimed for work done relating to the Moriarty Tribunal.

The firm had sought judgment for a total €1.74m but the issue of whether it was entitled to judgment in the remaining sum was adjourned for a full hearing.

Master Edmund Honohan refused to put a stay on entry of the judgment but did agree to grant a stay on execution of judgment until the proceedings over the remainder of the alleged debt were finalised.

At that November hearing, Aillil O'Reilly BL, for Mr Lowry, indicated his side would appeal the judgment decision "forthwith" on grounds the Master lacked the jurisdiction to make the judgment order and it was unfair.

If a stay was not put on entry of judgment, it would cause harm to Mr Lowry and put him to considerable cost, inconvenience and embarrassment, counsel argued.

Mr Honohan said he believed he had jurisdiction to enter judgment for an uncontested amount.

This week, on consent of the sides, the High Court Deputy Master vacated the judgment order and all matters will now be decided at a full court hearing.

The sides have agreed a timetable for exchange of legal documents for that hearing which will involve the matter coming before the court again next November to deal with issues relating to discovery of documents.

BBT Chartered Accountants, Torquay Road, Foxrock, had sought final judgment from the Master arising from fees claimed for work carried out by the firm for Mr Lowry in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr Lowry's side had sought an adjournment, arguing it was a contested case with the cause of action dating back to the McCracken tribunal in 1997.

In an affidavit, Denis O'Connor, a partner in BBT, said Mr Lowry had paid the firm for work done for him during the McCracken Tribunal.


Mr O'Connor said he had provided a detailed breakdown of hours expended from 1998 to 2010 and the firm also carried out consultancy work for Mr Lowry.  He said the total fees were €2m but two payments of €104,504 and €156,314 were made and the sum outstanding was €1.74m.


Mr O'Connor said solicitors for Mr Lowry had, in correspondence last June and July, conceded a substantial sum of money is owing but had not quantified that and instead argued the fees should not be recoverable until after the Moriarty Tribunal decision on costs.


There was no agreement to defer payment of BBT's fees, Mr O'Connor said. 


At the November hearing, Andrew Fitzpatrick BL, for BBT, said Mr Justice Michael Moriarty had recently issued a costs order in respect of Mr Lowry at the Tribunal and judgment should be entered in favour of BBT.

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