Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bill Cullen tells court there is 'no doubt' he will clear €11.5m debt

Businessman Bill Cullen has told the Commercial Court there is
Businessman Bill Cullen has told the Commercial Court there is "no doubt" his €11.5m debt to Ulster Bank will be cleared.

Tim Healy

Businessman Bill Cullen has told the Commercial Court there is "no doubt" his €11.5m debt to Ulster Bank will be cleared.

He also says he became 'so irritated' over the approach of Ulster Bank-appointed receivers in selling assets of his companies he decided to take legal proceedings.

Mr Cullen, representing himself, said the receivers have reached agreements for sale of some five properties for €8.3m. There was another eight to be sold and it was 'clear' the bank would get its money, he said.

His 'real target' in the case he has brought was the bank and its receivers and he 'might not have got the best advice' in joining more than 20 other parties as defendants, he said.  This included companies, individual solicitors and estate agents acting in the intended sales, he told Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

He needed time to get the legal documents together for his case and perhaps seek legal representation, he said.  He was concerned the sales were depriving him of monies to which he was entitled and could use for his business.

Mr Cullen, accompanied by his partner Jackie Lavin, were in court to respond to an application on behalf of Ulster Bank Ireland Ltd, its receivers and its solicitors, Arthur Cox, for Mr Cullen's case to be fast-tracked in the Comemrcial Court.

In his case, he wants declarations he has an interest in a number of lands and properties over which receivers were appointed by Ulster Bank in 2012 and 2013, including properties in Counties Dublin, Wexford, Clare, Kerry, Laois and Wicklow.

He wants declarations the appointment of receivers in that regard are null and void and has also alleged breaches of Central Bank and Consumer Protection Codes.

Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied the case was urgent and would transfer it to the Commercial Court which it will come back to in October.

Earlier, moving the fast-track application, Bernard Dunleavy BL, for the bank, the receivers, Arthur Cox and for individual partners and solicitors of that firm, also listed as defendants, said it was urgent as it was delaying intended sales of properties.

Counsel said his side were also very concerned about the "bald" and "wide-ranging" allegations of professional misconduct made against professionals. Those claims were taken very seriously and an affidavit had been sworn rejecting them.

Mr Cullen had registered several lis pendens notices (notification of pending litigation) over a range of properties in which he was claiming to have a beneficial interest, the court heard.  The properties include assets of the Glencullen group of companies.

Mr Cullen was claiming a beneficial interest in some 13 parcels of lands over which joint receivers have been appointed and has registered lis pendens over those, counsel said.

Some properties were in the process of being sold and the lis pendens were interfering with that.  One property was due to have been sold on June 5 but a lis pendens was registered just before that, he added.

When Mr Dunleavy said the joint receivers were appointed over companies controlled by Mr Cullen arising from debts of some €13m, Mr Cullen said that debt had been reduced to about €11.5m.

After Mr Cullen indicated his real difficulty was with the bank and receivers, Mr Dunleavy said, if the case was withdrawn against the Arthur Cox firm, partners and solicitors, there may be no costs implications for Mr Cullen arising from his having included those parties as defendants.

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