Thursday 23 November 2017

€29m judgement against owner of famous Dublin pub

Turk's Head bar in Temple Bar, Dublin
Turk's Head bar in Temple Bar, Dublin

Tim Healy

NAMA has secured €29m judgment orders against businessman David Cullen over outstanding loans made for properties including the Turk's Head Bar and Paramount Hotel in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled Mr Cullen had advanced no grounds of defence to the agency's claim and refused to grant a stay on judgment pending consideration of appeal.


Maurice Collins SC, for NAMA, had opposed a stay on grounds including a decision is due on April 9 next on Mr Cullen's application to be adjudicated a bankrupt in England.


NAMA had objected to that bankruptcy application on grounds of its claim Mr Cullen's centre of main interest is Ireland, not England.


NAMA's application for summary judgment had already been delayed by "meritless" points raised by Mr Cullen and a stay could impact on the Irish court proceedings if Mr Cullen was delcared bankrupt in the interim, he added.


The judge said no grounds had been advanced to justify a stay.


Mr Cullen had argued he had an arguable defence to the application by NAMA company, National Assets Loan Management Ltd (NALM), for summary judgment.


In 2010, NAMA took over loans advanced by Bank of Ireland from 2002 to Mr Cullen for several purposes, including development of the Turk's Head and Paramount  and the Seafield Hotel and apartments in Ballymoney, Co Wexford.


Mr Cullen is now living in London. Mr Justice Kelly previously ruled his UK bankruptcy proceedings did not mean the Irish courts could not deal with NAMA's application.


In his reserved judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Kelly said it was "very clear" there was no defence to summary judgment and he entered judgment for €29,129,405 against Mr Cullen, plus interest and costs.


While Mr Cullen had argued NAMA was not entitled to acquire his bank loans in 2010, he first objected to the acquisition in this legal action, two years later, the judge noted.


Rejecting additional claims Mr Cullen was given minimal opportunity to make representations before his loans were acquired, the judge said evidence of engagement between the sides and that Mr Cullen had advanced a business plan to NAMA, which was rejected.


He rejected other claims NALM did not have the legal standing to bring the case or that the loan facilities were not "eligible bank assets"

within the meaning of the NAMA Act 2009.


 Mr Cullen had argued some of the loans were made for multiple purposes but the judge ruled, whether or not the purpose of each of the loans was expressly related to development land, the breadth of the definition of eligile bank assets captured all the loans.

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