Thursday 14 December 2017

Children of couple who owe €50m own properties in partnership set up by parents, court hears

THE children of a couple who had a €50m judgment registered against them by AIB own a number of properties in London and Mayo via a partnership set up by their parents, the High Court heard today.

In a case taken against AIB by Emma Joyce (27), a daughter of Thomas Joyce and Patricia O’Connor Joyce, of Summerville House, Rosbeg Westport, Co Mayo, she is seeking a number of declarations from the court over the disputed partnership.

These include that her parents hold assets, including properties at Cherry Cottage, Westport Co Mayo, 16-26 Bute Street, South Kensington, London, and a share of the proceeds of the sale of a property in Kings Road, Chelsea, London, on behalf of the partnership.

Ms Joyce, of Pembroke Road, Dublin, is further seeking a declaration that the members of the partnership are beneficially entitled to the assets and any proceeds of the sale of the property at Kings Road London a sum of approximately €1m which has been frozen in a bank account pending the outcome of the case.

However AIB, which is opposing the action, has rejected claims that the partnership has any interest in any of the properties.

AIB also denies the Joyce's claims that it had any knowledge of or was aware of the nature of and purpose of the Summerville Partnership.

In its counterclaim, AIB is seeking a declaration that the Partnership and its members have not proprietary interest in any of the properties.

Opening the case,counsel for Emma Joyce, Mark Connaughton, said the Summerville Partnership was established after Mrs Joyce after sold her stake in her family business Sean O’Connor and Co Ltd for €16m.

The partnership was established for the benefit of the Joyce's five children, Emma, Honora, Thomas Jnr, Conor, and James.

Each has a share of just over 19 per cent in the partnership. Mr and Mr Joyce both have 2.1 per cent of the partnership and act as the trustees of the partnership.

Counsel said that in 2004 the partnership entered into transactions, where loans were obtained from AIB, to acquire commercial properties in Bute Street, which are currently up for sale, and a share in the Chelsea property.

The properties at Bute Street were purchased in the names of Mrs Joyce, while the Chelsea property investment was entered into in the names of both Mr and Mrs Joyce. Both investments it is claimed were made for the benefit of the partnership.

Counsel said that the partnership also purchased Rose Cottage, a property adjoining their home in Westport Co Mayo for €1.4m. That property was initially mortgaged to Bank of Ireland which was subsequently released.

In 2006 AIB was granted a mortgage over the property as security for money belonging to the partnership held on deposit by AIB.

Mr Connaughton said that it was their case that AIB, which had many dealings with the Joyces, had constructive knowledge of the partnership had a beneficial ownership of the assets.

AIB, represented by Mark Sanfey and Jarlath Ryan Bl, says at no time had it had constructive knowledge of the partnership.

AIB denies the Bute properties were bought on behalf of the partnership, It says the Joyce's claims are inconsistent with documentation executed in the course of the purchase of the properties.

AIB also rejects Mr and Mrs Joyce's claim that the Chelsea investment was for the benefit of the partnership. The Joyce's the bank claims executed a series of documents certifying their joint exclusive interest in the Chelsea property.

AIB says that those agreements prevented Mr and Mrs Joyce from divesting themselves of any interest in that investment to any other person without AIB's consent.

AIB also says that at the Commercial Court in June 2011 it was granted judgment for €51m against both Mr and Mrs Joyce. Those sums remain due and owing.

In its counterclaim, AIB is also seeking an order that the proceeds of the share from the sale of the Chelsea property AIB be paid to it in order to discharge part of the judgment made against Mr and Mrs Joyce at the commercial Court.

The case before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan continues.

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