Sunday 25 March 2018

Bank put forward 'fake evidence' in debt case involving 88-year-old woman and her son says Master of the High Court

The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)
The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)

Tim Healy

A bank which claimed an 88-year-old woman had no defence to a debt she guaranteed on behalf of her son had put forward "fake evidence" in support of its case, the Master of the High Court has said.

Master Edmund Honohan also said he believed AIB was in contempt of court by telling judges in advance of a case the woman had no defence and that there was no need to look behind the case to determine that.

Master Honohan, who deals with cases on their way to trial in the High Court, was speaking during the case of John Byrne, Merlyn Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and his mother Joyce Byrne, Shamrock Hill Mews, Donnybrook Castle, Stillorgan, also Dublin.

AIB is suing Mr Byrne for €1.14m in relation to default on loans and repayment of an overdraft.   The loans were provided to facilitate existing borrowings towards a purchase in Mr Byrne's company, Information Mosaic Ltd,and the overdraft was for working capital.

It is suing Ms Byrne over a limited recourse guarantee she provided in 2010 for €835,000 towards her son's loans.  

Mr Byrne is disputing the bank's claim over what he says are significant inaccuracies and errors in its application, a claim the bank denies.

Ms Byrne is disputing the case on a number of grounds including that she did not receive legal advice before she signed the guarantee.

Master Honohan adjourned the case to next month after saying he wanted an apology from the bank over the contents of affidavits sworn by one of its officials in reply to affidavits from Ms Byrne.

He said there was clearly an arguable defence to the bank's case.

He said Ms Byrne had said she signed the guarantee, or at least thought she signed it, after her bank manager, who she had dealt with her all her life, had come to her home on a snowy day.

In response to Ms Byrne's affidavit, the bank had submitted affidavit from an official which contained "fake evidence as to what the law is".

"This is something which she (official) is not an expert in but she decides to regale the court as to what the law is".

The official was essentially saying a judge dealing with the case does not need to look behind it because the bank says there is no defence.

There had been criticism in a section of the media recently that judges were getting things wrong and that is why cases end up in the appeal court, he said.

This was where the problem starts when banks start putting forward fake evidence, he said.

"It is a contempt of court to say you know more than the judges and they do not have to look behind a case", he said.  

This was not the only thing that was wrong with the affidavits filed by the bank, he said.

The language in them attempted to diminish the defendant and contained "matters which should not be put into an affidavit because it is a matter of law", he said.

"I want an apology from the bank for this material which is a contempt of court," he said before adjourning the matter.

Counsel for the bank and for Ms Byrne consented to the adjournment.  There was no appearance on behalf of Mr Byrne.

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