Sunday 17 November 2019

O'Donnells can stay in their former Gorse Hill home until April 15

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia leave the Court of Appeal in Dublin during a previous appearance
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia leave the Court of Appeal in Dublin during a previous appearance

Tim Healy

RETIRED solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife are to be allowed remain in the former family home until April 15 after a court said it would not give its decision on his latest legal challenge until that date.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, presiding at the three-judge Court of Appeal, said the court would not after all be in a position to give its decision before the end of this week as there were a  number of "serious issues" to be considered. 

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia leave the court of appeal in Dublin
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia leave the court of appeal in Dublin
Brian O'Donnell has won a last-ditch bid to stay on at his former mansion home but only for a week
Brian O’Donnell at the Court of Appeal. Photo: Collins Courts.
Brian O Donnell leaving Four Courts with two of his children, Blake (centre) and Blaise (left). Photo: Courts Collins

Last week, she said it had been hoped to give the decision before the end of this week when the courts rise for the Easter vacation.

She said as the court would now give its judgment on April 15, it was extending until that date a stay already granted to Mr O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia halting a receiver taking over the house, Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney.

The stay was first granted a week and a half ago pending determination of the couple's appeal of a High Court decision that they were trespassing.

The case was back before the appeal court to hear submissions from Bank of Ireland, who appointed the receiver in pursuit of a €71.5m debt against the O'Donnells, and from Mr O'Donnell who is representing himself and his wife.

Mr O'Donnell had claimed the receiver was not validly appointed and that a seal on documentation relating to that appointment was not valid because it was not done by the appropriate Bank of Ireland officer.

Cian Ferriter SC, for the bank, said as recently as last Thursday, in a judgment on a separate case, the Supreme Court had found there was "no merit or substance in these technical points" which was exactly what Mr O'Donnell was seeking to raise.

Mr O'Donnell's claim that the only person entitled to authorise the seal on the document was a specified officer was incorrect as it was clear from the bank's bye laws that it could be done by a deputy to the secretary of the bank or an assistant secretary which was the case here.  

Under the Central Bank Act, Bank of Ireland was entitled to make whatever bye laws it saw fit, counsel said.

Asked by Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan about certain words under the seal which she (judge) said she was unable to make out, Mr Ferriter said the words were: "Good Faith is the Stability of the State".

In reply, Mr O'Donnell said the Bank of Ireland is governed by an Act of parliament dating back to 1783  and the charter setting it up.  

The bye laws derive from that charter and the seal referred to in the bye laws ordain that the seal shall be "carefully kept", under three locks and three keys, by the governor of the bank, the chairman and directors as assigned from time to time by the board of the bank, he said.

While there were references in the charter about oaths of loyalty to the Queen and preventing the "advance of Popery", the charter still applies from which the bye laws come, he said.

The Companies Acts of Ireland only "partially apply" to the Bank of Ireland and "everything else is a la carte" but it still has to operate the seal in the correct fashion, he said.

It was their case that the person who executed the seal was not the secretary and the seal was therefore void. The bank had also not provided any evidence to show the person named in the document had to authority to execute it, he said.

Mr O'Donnell said while they were not disputing the case law referred to by Mr Ferriter, they were saying that some of the references made in last week's Supreme Court ruling were "by the way" remarks.

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