Ivan Yates and wife challenge sale of lands and family home to bank
Former minister Ivan Yates and his wife Deidre have brought a challenge in the Commercial Court over the sale to a bank of lands in Co Wexford by his bankruptcy trustees.
They claim the sale to AIB of the land at Blackstoops, Enniscorthy,is void because the property includes their family home.
They have brought proceedings against AIB and against Mark Wilson and George Maloney who were appointed as joint Trustees in Bankruptcy over Mr Yates' estate by a Welsh Court in 2012. The couple want the property returned to Mr Yates.
They claim the lands in question fall outside the bankruptcy under a provision of the 1986 Bankruptcy Act which applies in England and Wales. This Act, it is claimed, governs aspects of Mr Yates's bankruptcy.
Alternatively, they claim Deirdre Yates has a beneficial interest in the lands owing to contributions made by her and the trustees were obliged to bring proceedings in Ireland to determine her interest and obtain permission from the Irish courts before disposing of the property.
This alleged failure to issue secondary proceedings concerning Mrs Yates interest was in breach of EU insolvency regulations, it is also claimed.
AIB opposes the claim and says its ability to recover the debts due to it from the couple will be adversely affected if they succeed in their application.
AIB acquired the lands at the centre of the dispute from the trustees in 2015.
In 2010, the bank loaned €6m to Celtic Bookmakers, which it says was owned and controlled by the couple.
AIB appointed a receiver over the company in 2011, which went into liquidation in 2012.
Mr Yates was adjudicated a bankrupt on his own application by Swansea County in August 2012. The trustees were appointed to his estate in 2013. In 2016 AIB secured a judgement of €1.6m against Mrs Yates.
AIB sought to have the case admitted to High Court's fast track Commercial Court list on the grounds the bank want the dispute resolved quickly and the value of the property exceeds €1m.
Counsel for couple said the value of the property does not exceed €1m and therefore the threshold for admission to the commercial list had not been reached.
Counsel said "significantly" no valuation evidence concerning the property had been put before the court, and the application to admit the case "cannot proceed".
Counsel added his clients don't have the resources to deal with a case in the Commercial Court which attracts a higher level of legal fees compared to those in the High Court.
Mr Justice McGovern said he was satisfied that the threshold had been reached, and admitted the case.
The Judge suggested the parties consider mediation as a way of resolving the dispute and he adjourned the case for a month to see if this was possible.