Friday 15 November 2019

O’Donnell children lose bid to keep luxury €7m Killiney home

Blaise (left), Alexandra (right), Blake (centre) and Bruce (back right) O'Donnell
Blaise (left), Alexandra (right), Blake (centre) and Bruce (back right) O'Donnell

Tim Healy

THE four adult children of solicitor Brian O’Donnell have lost their court action aimed at preventing Bank of Ireland taking possession of their luxury home in Killiney, Co Dublin.

Cian Ferriter SC, for the bank, told Mr Justice Brian McGovern today the bank is prepared to allow the children until September before exercising its right to possession of the property at Gorse Hill, Vico Road.

The bank considered this a reasonable time given the children had been in unlawful occupation of the property for some time, he said.

The bank would also be pursuing a claim for damages, counsel added.

It is understood lawyers for the children will seek to appeal Mr Justice McGovern’s rejection of their case to the Supreme Court. None of the children were in court for the judgment.

The bank had argued it was entitled to possession of the property, now said to be worth between € 6-7million, although valued at € 30million in 2006, as part of its efforts to execute a € 71 million judgment obtained against Mr O’Donnell and his wife, Dr Mary Patricia O’Donnell.

The bank secured that judgment at the Commercial Court in December 2011 over unpaid loans afetr a settlement reached between the sides broke down.

Blake, Blaise, Bruce and Alexandra O’Donnell had alleged they are the legal and beneficial owners of Gorse Hill, the bank has no valid claim to it and the court should discharge a receiver appointed by the bank over the property. They also sought damages.

The house and three and a half acres at Gorse Hill are owned by Vico Ltd, an Isle of Man company, and the shareholding of Vico Ltd is owned by a disrcretionary trust set up by the O’Donnell parents in favour of their children.

The dispute between the children and bank centred on whether Gorse Hill was an asset of the trust legally and benefically owned by the children.

In his detailed judgment, the judge found Vico Ltd acquired the beneficial interest in Gorse Hill by way of transactions based on a power of attorney scheme in 1998 and 2000. In 2006, full legal and beneficial title was transferred to Vico Ltd and duly registered, he found.

The expectation at that time was the borrwings would facilitate the O’Donnell parents to ultimately increase the family estate which would ultinately benefit the children, he said.

He said the children were entitled to a beneficial interest in the shares of Vico Ltd but it was clear the trust held shares, rather than any interest, in Gorse Hill.

Having found Gorse Hill was not held by the trust, there was no proprietary claim open to the chidlren as beneficiaries of the trust, he ruled.

The evidence “very clearly established” the children were beneficial owners of shares in Vico Ltd but held no beneficial interest in Gorse Hill.

The judge also found there was no basis to find Bank of Ireland had knowledge, actual or constructive, of any breach of duty or breach of trust by the directors of Vico Ltd or the trustees.

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