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Judge says number of experts not just increasing costs but his own blood pressure

A HIGH Court judge has said the number of experts being called to give evidence in examinership cases is not just increasing costs - but his own blood pressure.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton said hoped to acquire powers to limit the number of experts when dealing today with continuing court protection for well-known chicken processing company, Cappoquin Chickens.

While not having the necessary powers now, he hoped in the future to be able to limit expert evidence as he was entitled to take costs into account and was not going to "sit in court listening to multiple experts", the judge said.

"I've had too much of that in the past."

It did not seem to him to be necessary to put forward more and more experts. "It puts my blood pressure up," he said.

Court protection was granted last August to Cappoquin Poultry Ltd (CPL) and a related company Cappoquin Poultry Holdings Ltd after the court heard the business, employing 130, has debts of some €6m.

Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton was later confirmed as examiner.

The total costs of the examinership, including legal fees, are estimated about €200,000.

CPL's largest unsecured creditor, Henry Good Ltd, owed some €3.9m for supplying chicken feed, had petitioned for Mr McAteer's appointment on grounds including CPL was insolvent and to prevent assets being stripped.

CPL supplies local farmers or growers with one day old chickens, who house and feed them, until they are delivered to CPL for processing. CPL has been in operation since 2008 after acquiring the assets of Michael D O'Connor Ltd t/a Cappoquin Chickens, which had gone into liquidation.

Today, Rossa Fanning, for the examiner, sought an adjournment of a hearing aimed at securing court approval for a survival scheme allowing the companies exit examinership. The Revenue Commissioners and most classes of creditors are supporting the scheme.

Mr Fanning said the examiner needed time to respond to an affidavit for the directors seriously disputing valuations placed by the examiner's valuers on property assets and equipment. The valuation dispute could only be resolved by examination of the four valuers involved and he expected the scheme hearing to take two days.

Mr Justice Charleton said he wanted to know why it was necessary to have two valuers on each side and why it was considered more experts would be more convincing.

Mr Fanning said his side had to call two valuers as one was concerned with property and the second with equipment. The valuation dispute was important because the companies' directors were now arguing they would do better if the company was placed in liquidation, a view based on their insistence the assets had a higher value than the examiner's experts had put on them, he said.

Mr Justice Charleton suggested the valuers could get together with one giving evidence for each side.

A central issue was the directors' claim the proposed survival scheme was unfair to them as it involved an 85 per cent write down of their loans to the companies, he noted.

He would deal with the matter in one, not two, days, especially if he did not have to listen to several experts. "I only want the facts," he added before adjourning the matter to next week.