Wednesday 21 February 2018

Judge rejects arguments by Brian O'Donnell and his wife they don't have enough information to provide statement of affairs

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia

A HIGH Court judge has rejected arguments by retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife that they do not have the necessary information to enable them provide statements of affairs in relation to their bankruptcy.

Mr O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia were adjudicated bankrupt by the High Court in September 2013.

They were then required to file statements of affairs and also provide those statements to the trustee administering their bankruptcy, official assignee Chris Lehane.

However, the court heard, the couple failed to file the statements in the prescribed form.

They argued they could not do so because they did not have certain information, including detailed financial information from Bank of Ireland concerning their precise debt to, and facilities with,  that institution. They also argued they were entitled to certain information from Mr Lehane.

Both Mr Lehane and the bank disputed the information was necessary for completion of statements of affairs and refused to provide it.

Mr Lehane said the debts and liabilities of the O'Donnells could be estimated and they should compete statements of affairs to the best of their ability based on the information available to them.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello ruled Monday that much of the information sought by the O'Donnells is not in fact necessary for them to complete and file statements of affairs.

The court had entered judgment for some €71m against the couple in 2011 after a settlement agreement with the bank broke down, she said.

The debt due to the bank is the judgment sum  and is "readily ascertainable", she said.

The bank's solicitors told the O'Donnells in March 2013 the sum then due, after some realisations, was some €74.4m.

That meant, six months before they were adjudicated bankrupt, the couple could state the exact figure due to their major creditor with the only changes to that to come from any realisations by the bank of their property and continuing interest, the judge said.

The couple are in a position, and have been since they were adjudicated bankrupt,  to swear and file a statement of affairs as they are obliged to do under the Bankruptcy Act, the judge ruled.

The couple had clearly breached an agreement with the official assignee to file statements of affairs and had established no basis for the court to make orders against the bank and official assignee, the judge added.

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